Your Secrets Are Killing Your Teams' Productivity

The transparency this new generation of employees demands motivates them to greater accomplishment and commitment. That is what you want, right?
Your Secrets Are Killing Your Teams' Productivity
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The concept of complete transparency at work is a relatively new phenomenon across U.S. offices. Younger generations of workers grew up with all the information in the world at their fingertips, and expect their organizations to be open and honest, too. But is a lack of transparency to blame when employees aren’t productive?

BetterWorks recently commissioned a survey with Wakefield Research, and the results revealed a strong link between transparency and worker productivity. Sixty-four percent of employees believe their company’s leadership team isn’t completely transparent when communicating top goals. An increase in visibility and transparency, 37 percent of respondents said, would spur their performance.

But perhaps most surprisingly, 92 percent of employees surveyed said they would work harder if their co-workers could see their goals -- which tells us that the large majority of organizations are failing to make even their quarterly or annual goals public. When goal-setting becomes open and collaborative, managers can better recognize employees for their work, and employees are motivated to work harder.

Related: Motivating Employees Is Not About Money

Keeping secrets at work is hurting employee productivity -- and high-performing organizations need their employees to operate at the top of their game, especially given today’s economic climate. Here are three ways transparency can help companies win at work, and how to transform your company culture into one that thrives on openness and visibility.

Trust among colleagues. 

EY surveyed nearly 10,000 full-time employees from March to May of 2016, and the results begin to unravel the connection between trust -- or lack thereof -- across workplaces around the world, and the impact trust has on employee retention and satisfaction. Turns out less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss or colleagues. When asked which factors promote trust, 59 percent chose “communicating openly/transparently.” A lack of transparency among departments and between managers, employees and executives is the quickest way to diminish trust at work.

Creating an environment of trust affects not only daily interactions among employees, it determines whether your employees will choose to stay at your company for the long haul. Positive teams that trust each other are more likely to be productive, according to a research article published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. EY found that when professionals reported a high level of trust in their employer, they were happier at their job and more likely to stay committed to the company, and to be engaged and productive.

Related: 5 Companies Getting Employee Engagement Right

Communicating transparently tops EY’s list of factors most important to employees to increasing trust at work. I’ve learned personally that facilitating trust and transparency has to begin with your leadership team. You can’t expect all employees to divulge their professional goals and to progress if executives aren’t expected to do the same.

Feedback on performance.

Wakefield Research found that workers are dissatisfied with their managers’ feedback on their performance, with 62 percent responding that feedback isn’t useful or frequent enough. Feedback is the backbone of high-performing organizations. If employees fail to receive feedback in real-time, it’s impossible for them to improve and produce better results.

This time last year, the topic “death of the performance review” was featured in headlines across nearly every major publication. We’re still talking about killing the performance review not because it’s inherently bad, but because employees need more frequent and relevant feedback to remain agile and improve at work. While new questions are emerging, like how to handle compensation and performance, one thing remains clear: Employees crave consistent feedback on performance.

Related: 5 Fatal Feedback Flaws You Must Fix

Transparency is key to providing feedback in real-time. Creating visibility on top company goals can help a workforce stay aligned and work together toward long-term goals. Thirty-seven percent of employees say greater visibility of company and employee goals would spur their performance. When goals remain open and collaborative, managers find it easier to give feedback that is aligned with top company goals.

Working toward the same goal.

Successful business founders get started by establishing their company vision or mission. But somewhere along the way, that mission tends to get lost, or replaced. Even if you change the focus of your business, employees should never feel lost when it comes to why your business exists, or what short and long term goals they’re working to hit. Transparency helps employees understand why their work matters. As it stands, only 32 percent of women and 25 percent of men completely understand how their work contributes to company goals.

A recent Gallup study found that 71 percent of millennials who say they “strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from competitors” say they plan to be with their company for at least one year. When you’re working to build something great, you need employees to stay committed. Keeping goals visible allows all employees -- from entry level workers to C-level executives -- to unite around a common mission and purpose.

Openness and clarity with employees does more than support a flow of communication. Employees learn to trust the organization and their colleagues when they see how and why their work matters. In turn, you can trust employees to stay productive and committed.

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