How much of an impact can transparency have in the office?
- 7 Min Read
With poor company culture costing the UK economy £23.6 billion per year. We look into transparency in the workplace, and how much of a positive impact this can have on culture in the office.
In recent times many employers have woken up to the thought of being transparent with their staff. As this could potentially increase staff morale and motivation for them to work. With poor company culture costing the UK economy £23.6 billion per year according to a report by Breathe. We delve deeper into how much of an impact a transparent business could have on its staff and their customers
It can be beneficial for leaders within a business, to be honest with their staff. If they do this, then it could result in them being more motivated to come into work. Jonathan Richards, CEO of BreatheHR talks about the importance of transparency, and how this has impacted their company in a positive fashion.
“Every time we overshare, we see a kick up in energy, people want to be treated like adults, other businesses could pluck up the courage to tell that things weren’t well, people benefit from honesty, it does take some people getting used to, but in the long term it gives them a level of responsibility, and it helps them in feeling more of a part of the business, and then they feel committed to overcommunicate, if you have a culture of being apparent, when you get it wrong people pick up the things that you do wrong and this helps in creating a healthy workplace culture”
Building this transparency within a business could also help in putting employees and employers on the same page. Which will result in them striving towards the same target every time this is publicized within the business. Transparency is also said to improve communication in the workplace. When leaders can easily communicate face to face with those below them, those people below them will be more likely to do the same below them, then it goes on and on. Which creates a positive trickle effect.
Jonathan continues to talk about the perks of being honest with your staff, saying. “Transparency is everything, to get alignment across the organisation, leaders have to be transparent, when we started 6 years ago, my goal was to share more with the team”
So it has become apparent that transparency can be beneficial in the office. But what effect can transparency have on an environmentally friendly company? David Wilson, Managing Director of Vanden UK – “Transparency is another big topic (like everything we think about in plastics and plastics recycling these days). Often it’s a matter of balance. For example, if we are completely open and transparent in everything that we do we risk our own confidentiality and that of our clients and customers. We also have a statutory obligation to protect everyone’s personal information, even if that relates to things that seem at first site to be work-related, like phone numbers and email addresses. On the other hand, we have an absolute obligation to clearly understand and allow others to understand what happens to the materials we collect from them and go onto recycling.
So this does show that although transparency could potentially play a positive part in company culture, it still has its limitations, and it’s important to have a balance of transparency. However, if there is a healthy balance in transparency, then this could potentially be informative to its customers and employees. Leaders being more honest and open in the workplace could also encourage employees to do the same. As statistics gathered by Automatic Data Proccessing put together a survey which concluded that Over a quarter of UK employees believe it is acceptable to call in sick when they aren’t (27%), significantly higher than the European average of 21%
Attitudes towards calling in sick do differ across Europe and countries with workers more likely to feel like quitting also tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards calling in sick. UK workers are most likely (27%) to feel that calling in sick is acceptable if they are not actually sick, with France (23%) being the second most likely, and Italy (20%) being third.
Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK, commented on these findings, saying: “We all know that employee absence costs businesses and so sick days without sickness are something to be prevented. All too often this trend is linked to unhappy workers and employers have a vital role to play in reversing this worrying attitude. In such a period of political, economic and technological flux, businesses need to have a stable, consistent and engaged workforce.”
Phipps continues to talk about how to find a solution to this issue, saying: “Business leaders should work to build a genuine relationship with their workforce, using transparency to build trust, and providing development and support to build a committed workforce. It’s important to drive quality management practices that prevent absenteeism while also supporting employees in genuine cases of sickness. Finally, leaders should work to provide quality jobs that stimulate people and give them meaning, so they feel more invested in their roles. This will not only shift attitudes towards sick days but also improve overall employee retention.” These issues with UK workers being dissatisfied could be solved with increasing the relationship through transparency and honesty.
There are many things employers can do to increase their transparency at work. Jonathan explains what he has done in the past to initiate this. “When we were growing and taking on more staff, we all went out for dinner, where the team leadership shared their plans, thoughts, goals, previous years profit and loss. We take staff through a financial status and give people a better understanding of it, we give quarterly updates, plans for the new year, this helps pull everyone together. Since doing this we’ve doubled in size every year. We try to present this in a mix, it’s all too easy to turn these updates into death by powerpoint, we try to get as many of the team as possible involved, as different people are responsible for different areas of the business, the way these are formatted, we start most meetings with what went well, what we do next, also we have a goal setting methodology, at the beginning of every year every manager commits to 6 goals, these are broken down to individual objectives and distributes to the rest of the team, of course, all of these sessions will include free food, and maybe drinks.”
These are just a few of the examples that many employers can adopt in order to become more transparent, however Jonathan does mention that it is important for companies to build up gradually and to also to test things out, he says “Test it out, start sharing it a bit more, see what feels comfortable, today’s offices are full of cliques, no one wants to talk to each other, sit next to each other, if you give people share a little bit and see where it gets, don’t go all in at once and build it up gradually”
Building transparency isn’t just important to ensure that employees and customers are receiving honest and clear information about how a business is performing and what they’re working towards. But it is also such an extremely useful asset in building a strong positive working relationship with staff. As well as motivating them and giving employees recognition for their hard work.