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Radical Transparency Can Re-Energize a Company's Culture and Deliver Results See what a few innovative organizations are doing to foster information sharing, improve the work produced and better employee retention.

By Heather R. Huhman Edited by Dan Bova

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Creating a top-notch company culture is essential for attracting the best people and keeping them on board. After all, Gallup recently discovered that as much as 70 percent of the American workforce is disengaged on the job. It estimated that a lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy about $450 billion or more annually.

So what are companies neglecting? How can you change your company's culture to inspire employee engagement, attract great talent and keep staff excited about your corporate goals? Transparency just might be the answer, and it's something companies are ignoring at their own peril.

Many organizations fall short in conveying corporate goals to staffers. A recent survey by the Dale Carnegie Institute found that while 44 percent of employees claimed to be familiar with company goals, they couldn't name them specifically. A survey by leadership-training firm Fierce Inc. found that 71 percent of employees felt that their managers did not spend enough time explaining goals, while about 50 percent of respondents to another Fierce survey pegged a lack of transparency as the No. 1 issue holding back their company.

If your best people don't understand the company's goals, they won't know the direction they should be heading. Look at what a few innovative companies are doing to embrace transparency and see if your company could follow suit:

Related: Why Transparency Is Essential to a Trusting Staff

1. Include everyone on the email chain. Keeping employees in the loop is important, which is why mobile-payment giant Square provides meeting notes for almost every company meeting to the entire staff. Square takes transparency seriously, even sending 250-page executive board meeting reports to all workers. So does mobile-payment platform provider Stripe, which implemented the crazy idea of making all corporate email available to those inside the company. Giving employees this option helps foster a transparent organization where information is easily found.

Get radical: Embrace information sharing within your company. Make important information easily accessible to staff and share notes from important meetings. Use the company's email system to keep workers updated and informed on current goals, challenges and hurdles so everyone is working together.

Related: On Becoming That Truly Inclusive Leader

2. Have the CEO meet with staff regularly. Glassdoor recently gave LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner its highest rating. Weiner fosters an organization built on transparency. He takes the time to hold biweekly company-wide meetings to listen to suggestions from employees.

Get radical: Rigid hierarchy might be constraining the success of your best people. Bring managers and workers together often, so that idea sharing takes place inside your organization. Workers will feel more heard and appreciated, and upper management will have a better idea of the work occurring within the company.

Related: 10 Questions CFOs Should Ask Their Controllers

3. Track in real time. If managers need to keep tabs on the work flow and see how efforts are cascading toward meeting the company's goals, real-time tracking can help. It will let them see the direction that projects are headed and stop processes if they start to go off track. "Real-time tracking gives your team ownership of their work, while giving management sight lines into work flow," says Andre Lavoie, CEO of talent-alignment platform company ClearCompany. "It also cuts down on toxic office politics, since you can see the work everyone on your team is actually accomplishing."

Get radical: Use real-time tracking to see what your best people are working on and isolate areas that need more of your team's attention. Don't use real-time tracking tools in a vacuum, however. Make sure you're communicating with team members in specific ways, to increase productivity, improve feedback and prevent problems before they arise.

Related: Should Your Salary Be Made Public?

4. Keep no secrets about important company matters (including salaries). Social-sharing-app provider Buffer made waves by deciding that the salary of every company employee would be public. One of the firm's core values is transparency and this figures into every aspect of the company's daily life. Buffer recently gave employees Jawbone UP wristbands to help them keep tabs on their physical health and even their sleep patterns. All this transparency has had an impact on recruiting; applications more than doubled after news of the salary transparency initiative.

Get radical: Think about issues your company doesn't share with all staffers and find out why. Is there a good reason not to share salaries, customer feedback or even revenue? If not, try sharing this type of information and watch as employees feel more valued and informed.

What do you think? How does your company encourage transparency? Share your experience in the comments.

Related: Not Using Big Data for Hiring? You May Be Missing Out on the Best Candidates.

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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