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The Secret to an Engaged Workforce and a Gossip-Free Office

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Disengagement has become an epidemic in the workplace. Caused by office politics, goal misalignment and managers who hobble employee growth rather than help, there’s no denying our people often struggle to stay engaged. In fact, a 2013 study by Gallup discovered 70 percent of the workforce is disengaged on the job.

A new generation of young professionals are entering the workforce with expectations of a healthy, collaborative and transparent culture. Meanwhile, a more seasoned generation of professionals are actively seeking new opportunities to get out of unhappy situations.

Related: Distracted and Overwhelmed Employees Are Costing You Big. Try These 3 Fixes.

It’s time to make some real change to combat disengaged, unhappy employees with a low-cost and highly accessible solution: transparency.

Here are some ways to infuse transparency into your organization to improve collaboration between managers and employees, and foster engagement within your organization:

1. Make transparency a priority from the top down. Leaders must be engaged themselves and provide transparency into their roles and decisions. Doing so will promote the same values throughout the company. Be open about what is needed in management roles from the beginning. Let would-be leaders know what will help them succeed and cause them to fail.

Seek and share feedback on the performance of both your managers and their direct reports. Openly communicating about the strengths and weaknesses on all levels of your team will ensure that everyone is performing to the best of their ability, and understands the contributions of other team members. At ClearCompany, we’ve seen this level of understanding and collaboration foster a team of curious, engaged and team-oriented employees.

Management must also take an active interest in the great work their employees are doing, and expand upon the strengths within their respective teams. Good leaders are tasked with cultivating a culture where their team is comfortable hearing about and addressing their weaknesses. Progress cannot happen in a vacuum. Employees should have a safe, confidential and timely forum for discussion.

Related: 6 Ways to Improve Your Conversations

2. Use different strategies to engage different types of employees. No two employees are the same, and all of your people should have the option to receive clear, transparent communication in a way that resonates with them. Doing this will increase engagement and the way in which each employee ultimately collaborates with the rest of the team.

For example, if you have big organizational news to share, do so via email, in person, during team meetings and even via a letter from the CEO. It is not overkill and will ensure that all types of employee receive the information through a medium they are able to appreciate and engage with.

Direct managers spend the most time with each team member and thus should have a solid understanding of how best to engage with their reports. Ensure that your managers are comfortable communicating with, and providing actionable feedback to, their teams.

3. Stop office gossip before it spreads. The more transparent an office culture is, the less likely rumors will spread. When everyone clearly understands what’s going on -- from direction of the company, to organizational structure for promotions, raises, etc. -- no one has the need to start saying something false. In this case, employees will likely stop gossip early on.

Create a system in which open-door policies are not only championed, but actually utilized. Make it a goal for your managers to hold “office hours” to give employees an opportunity to drop by and ask questions about any topic.

When employees feel up to date about company strategy and decisions, and comfortable asking questions if they are out of the loop, the rumor mill will stop churning.

Related: Entrepreneurs, Have No Fear of Trusting Your Employees

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