Transparency and accountability are now constant topics in today’s news cycle. Without being political, the new Trump administration has helped raise an important question for businesses: just how is important is transparency when communicating with employees? Is it always a good thing? While many argue that it’s an essential value for a successful business, others contend that it can actually erode a company’s culture. We found a few differing viewpoints on what transparency means for businesses.
“When companies are open with employees, shareholders, and the general public, those businesses are able to build trust while also holding themselves accountable.”
A few companies mentioned in this article actually share employee salaries and the formulas used to calculate them on a publicly accessible spreadsheet. These organizations think that when employees are armed with this information, they better understand what it takes to succeed financially. Other companies on the list, such as Whole Foods and Patagonia, work to ensure their products and processes are completely transparent.
“Too much transparency may create work conditions in which employees feel their autonomy and uniqueness are being challenged.”
This Harvard Business Review article offers that when companies are too forthcoming with information, they’re creating a culture of finger-pointing, distrust and conflict. Companies that collect information and data often face criticism from employees when no action is taken as a result. To combat this lack of confidence, the author advises companies to “wield transparency effectively.”
What Do You Think?
In the vein of being completely transparent (obviously), it’s much easier to find articles and research recommending transparency as a company value rather than not. Each company and culture is unique so how do you approach this idea when interacting with your workforce? What do you choose to communicate and what (if anything) do you choose to keep closer to the vest? Share your thoughts in the comments section.