The need for transparency in the workplace has never been more pronounced than it is currently. And, judging from recent employee satisfaction surveys, the expectation for transparency is only going to increase.

In fact, one TINYpulse survey reported that “Management transparency is the top factor when determining employee happiness.” This desire for transparency isn’t specific to any particular industry or job type. Universally, employees expect management and leaders within their organizations to be open—and trustworthy.

For many managers and leaders, the thought of ongoing, free flowing information—including admission of mistakes—can be daunting. Focusing on the benefits, however, can help outweigh the fear. Especially when you consider that there are a multitude of ways to improve transparency—and in turn improve workplace performance—with little to no extra financial investment.

Here are some areas where employers who want to start cultivating a transparency culture can focus their efforts.

Be forthright about the future

Employees want to know where the company is headed. Is it on track for meeting goals? Is leadership considering changes to the company’s vision? How secure can people feel in their jobs? Transparency enables employees to plan and make decisions based on facts and data, not speculation.

More face-to-face interaction

While technology has opened up options for instantly communicating with people worldwide, it has also caused face-to-face get-togethers to take a backseat.  Try communicating less over email and through third-parties, and instead engage more with employees face-to-face, through video chats or at the very least, via phone call. Have real conversations.  Seeing facial expressions and hearing inflections in people’s voices helps promote transparency and build more genuine relationships.

Regularly communicate your company’s vision, values and mission

In a 2015 Achiever’s survey, researchers found that 61% of respondents didn’t know their company’s mission statement; most didn’t find the mission statement motivating; and, only 40% knew the vision their company was striving toward. If you want to get employees on board with your company’s vision and values, you need to make sure they know what they are and that they resonate with them. Have open conversations about why they matter and how employees contribute.

Involve employees in making decisions that directly affect them

Don’t make employees feel like they’re at the mercy of whatever leadership dictates. Encourage employees to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas when it comes to decisions that affect them directly. In the spirit of transparency, include them in the process rather than keeping them in the dark.

Provide feedback

It’s human nature to want to know how we’re doing. Constructive feedback is an important part of transparency, and employees perform better when they’re given performance feedback. For a job well done, be sure to acknowledge it. When performance isn’t quite up to par, have an open discussion about the aspects that were done well and ideas for improving the facets that were lacking. Be sure to find out if there are resources they need to help them be more successful.

Say thank you and reward good employees

Desiring recognition is also human nature. Accomplishments should not go unnoticed or unappreciated. You want employees to feel valued and know that their contributions matter. When employees don’t feel valued, distrust grows and loyalty becomes nonexistent.

According to a 2015 Talent Trends report, 1 out of 3 employees is actively looking for a new job. Through appreciation and rewards, give your employees a good reason to stay. As Susan Magrino, TalentCircles President and CEO, says, “We need to be thankful for the people we depend on—the ones we trust and seem to go to no matter what. I don’t think we thank our really good employees enough.”

By doing these things, and encouraging managers and employees to be honest, you will breed transparency and build trust. And trust is the first step in engendering loyalty. Trust also leads to better, bolder problem solving; stronger, more genuine relationships; and, better employee performance. So, make your organization a place of transparency and trust—and take time this week to say thank you to the employees you depend on.

For more information, contact us at 415-835-0202 or

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