How to Use Transparency to Improve Employee Engagement

An employee shares a new idea with her supervisor

Transparency in business can help improve productivity and employee engagement. Here's how you can develop a transparent culture at your company.

Transparency in business can be the key to helping your employees become more engaged and productive. It can also help solidify your reputation as an honest, trustworthy organization. Here are a few steps you can take to create a more transparent culture in your workplace.

1. Explain How Your Employees' Work Impacts the Big Picture

Employees should understand why their work matters. You should clearly explain your vision and long-term goals for the company. Then, either you or your managers should regularly remind employees about how they're helping to achieve them.

For example, if a department lowered their costs by 10 percent, give them a public thank-you and point out how the extra savings went toward research funding for your new product. When employees realize just how much their work matters, it can help them stay motivated.

2. Share Documents and Data

In a transparent organization, all employees have access to the same documents and data. You can achieve this by storing everything in a cloud system.

Cloud collaboration can make it easier for employees to find information since no one has to chase anyone else down to get a file, and sharing documents can open up the opportunity for more employees to provide input. Anyone can give feedback on a big project, not just the people working on it.

3. Make Sure the Path to Leadership Is Clear

Employees should feel comfortable contacting anyone in the organization, including you. You never know who's going to come up with the next major breakthrough.

Make sure everyone in your company has your senior leadership's contact information and encourage them to reach out when they have ideas. They shouldn't feel as though they can only move suggestions up through their direct managers.

4. Create Clear Benchmarks of Success

The way you evaluate and promote employees must be transparent. Set up clear benchmarks that show how an employee is doing so they can better understand what they do well and where they need to improve.

Another employee's promotion should never feel like a mystery. Tech startup Buffer has gone as far as making all employees' salary information public and uses a simple formula to show why each person earns what, according to Business Insider. While you may not want to go to these lengths, clearly communicating the performance measures that are necessary for promotion can help employees better understand your business decisions and set clear goals for themselves.

5. Effectively Communicate Bad News

If managers have to deliver bad news, they should explain how it affects your company's finances and long-term goals. For example, maybe there won't be bonuses this year, but that's because that money's being invested in a new marketing strategy that's expected to bring in more revenue, which could mean bigger bonuses the following year.

Employees can get frustrated when it seems like decisions are being made and they don't know why. When you take the extra time to explain what's going on, they may be more likely to be understanding when faced with tough decisions, even if they don't like the immediate effects.

Make transparency in business one of your core values and regularly remind employees how important it is to your shared success. They should know you are truly committed to a more open culture.