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Are Your Employees Stressed? You Need to Embrace Transparency.

The HR world continues its shift toward focusing on employees' well-being. Are you part of that trend?
Are Your Employees Stressed? You Need to Embrace Transparency.
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The human resources (HR) world continues its shift toward focusing on employees, with companies increasingly paying attention to improving their well-being.

Related: This Essential Leadership Trait Can Push Employees to Do Their Best

That issue -- the overall health of each employee -- is important in several ways. For one, it can have a direct impact on the value of the organization: A January 2016 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found, for instance, that socially responsible companies that invest in the health and well-being of their workers show a higher market valuation than those that don’t.

That may be why many companies are building strategies around their staff’s well-being. Virgin Pulse’s 2017 Trends in Well-being & Engagement report found that 78 percent of companies surveyed viewed well-being as a critical component of business strategies. And that's not surprising, considering that 72 percent of them also agreed that well-being influences employee engagement.

What’s the best strategy for well-being? It starts with transparency. Here are ways in which managers can encourage the transparency that will improve employee well-being:

Define clear expectations.

Nothing is harder on employees than when they don’t have clear direction from management or aren’t given enough information or tools to understand what’s expected of them. As a 2015 Wrike study found, missing information and unclear leadership are some of the top stressors at work.

Transparency is the opposite of closed doors, where murmurs of leadership meetings shrouded in secrecy bounce down the halls. Instead, transparency is founded on the leadership being open and clear with the entire team. That could mean involving all levels of the staff on making major strategic decisions or cluing them in on how all of their roles are evolving.

Related: Let's Be Real: Why Transparency in Business Should Be the Norm

Paint your workforce a picture of what success looks like for each one of them, and create a space where they feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. Transparency is fueled on employees' voices being heard, so empower them with a communication tool.

For example, use an internal social network where employees can directly interact with leadership. This helps reduce the stress they feel when they don’t know where they stand in management’s eyes or are unsure of what the next steps are. So, the next time they don’t know what they need to do to advance their goals, they should be able to message a supervisor to get clear direction.

Explain their value.

Employees tend to feel undervalued when they don’t fully understand how they’re being compensated and where they stand in the market. This leads them to search for greener pastures amid a deep feeling of unease. After all, people want to feel that they are valued by their employers.

The solution is simple -- talk to them.

PayScale's 2016 Compensation Best Practices Report found a gap in how employers and employees perceive compensation. Among nearly 7,600 business leaders surveyed in the United States and Canada, 73 percent said their employees were fairly compensated -- but just 36 percent of employees agreed.

Take the time to openly discuss how compensation is calculated. The same Payscale report also found that 82 percent of employees would be satisfied with below-market pay as long as the employer was transparent about the reasons.

Open communication isn’t just a one-way conversation where management lectures about pay rates. It’s much more than that. Encourage employees to speak up and ask questions about why they’re paid what they’re paid.

When they know why, they will likely be more satisfied with their pay. They'll be less stressed and more engaged in their work because they understand how their employer attributes value to their performance.

Align goals.

The first step to aligning goals is getting people on track with contributing to organizational goals. Collaborate with them to set goals that are meaningful to them but also fit into the big picture.

Engage in ongoing discussions to keep them on track. To add more substance to goal progression tracking, provide employees with visuals, like charts or graphs. That way, they'll be able to see how much more they need to do to achieve their goals.

People like to see their progress. When they have a visual aid showing them that their efforts advance them toward completing a task, they'll be more motivated and engaged in the work.  

Help them find balance.

Creating a work-life balance is integral in business strategies that involve helping employees improve their health and well-being. Empower them with tools and information to stay healthy through exercise and good eating habits.  

Teach the workforce the importance of regular breaks and how their well-being directly impacts their performance. Employees who feel chained to their desks are prone to burn out.

Related: The 3 Steps to Building a Culture of Transparency

Instead, when they can maintain good health, they will be happier, more productive workers. So, don’t stop at just teaching them the benefits of a healthy work-life balance. Go the extra mile and incorporate those benefits, in processes and policy.

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