Transparency in the Workplace: Everything You Need to Know

Two women in a conference room, laptops on the table, windows behind them.

In the age of both quiet quitting and widespread layoffs, transparency in the workplace has become more important than ever.

Transparency is essential for building trust and teamwork within a workforce. Closed doors only lead to closed hearts and disengaged employees.

Transparency also helps create an inclusive and honest work environment where people feel comfortable bringing up their thoughts and ideas without fear of criticism or judgment. More creativity from team members leads to better solutions.

But what is transparency, and why does it matter?

This blog post will answer those questions plus share tips for creating a transparent work environment.

What is workplace transparency?

Transparency in the workplace is a philosophy that promotes open and honest communication among employees at all levels of an organization. It’s important to be transparent with your team because it allows them to feel comfortable approaching you for feedback or expressing their feelings about an assignment.

In a transparent workplace, leaders commit to sharing relevant information openly and honestly. This can include:

  • setting clear expectations for employees
  • admitting to mistakes
  • sharing team or company setbacks
  • providing consistent feedback to direct reports
  • including employees in the decision-making process
  • explaining the “why” behind a big decision
  • updating employees on key business metrics

In a transparent workplace, employees should also commit to communicating openly and honestly with their managers. This can include:

  • asking for clarification on an assignment
  • admitting to mistakes
  • proposing new ideas
  • providing immediate updates when a project goes off track or hits an unexpected hurdle
  • asking for help when a task is too much
  • opening up about personal problems that could temporarily affect work performance

An open dialogue enables employees (especially managers) to know when issues arise within teams. Then the team can work together to resolve problems before those issues affect morale and productivity levels even further.

When leadership sets an example of transparency, employees will follow. A strong initiative from their managers can make employees feel like they are part of a team, rather than merely individual cogs in a machine.

Transparency at Insight Global

Insight Global follows five shared values, all of which lead to transparency in the workplace. For example, look at the value Always Know Where You Stand. In practice, this is both a shared value and a shared responsibility.

This is how Insight Global employees at all levels, in all divisions, demonstrate care for one another through accountability. Everyone is encouraged to give feedback, but also to request feedback, to own both successes and mistakes, and to make changes based on feedback.

One way Insight Global leadership models Always Know Where You Stand is through candor.

  • Lead with empathy. Demonstrate care through accountability.
  • Be real. Don’t sugarcoat. Respectfully say what’s on your mind.
  • Listen, be curious, and engage.
  • Direct is kind. Be open about how you feel. Be open to receiving feedback.
  • Follow up and follow through.

Keep reading to learn more ways to develop transparency in the workplace.

Why is workplace transparency important?

Transparency in the workplace, especially within teams, allows for open communication and prevents misunderstandings. A lack of transparency could hurt productivity or even drive talented individuals away from the company.

Read on to see what transparency actually does for an organization!

Improves employee engagement

Transparency heavily affects employee engagement in a positive way. Without transparency, employees will likely feel frustrated by not knowing what is expected. Also, they won’t be motivated to do their best work or even stay with the company if they are unsatisfied. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why transparency within an organization can help increase employee engagement levels. This means happier and more productive employees overall!

When Gallup surveys employees to gauge engagement, they look at 12 distinct elements, several of which relate to transparency. These include:

  • I know what is expected of me at work. (transparent expectations)
  • At work, my opinions seem to count. (open communication)
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress. (honest feedback)

When employees agree with these statements, they are more engaged at work.

When everyone knows exactly where the team stands, there isn’t any room for confusion or conflict that could potentially damage relationships between co-workers.

Strengthens communication and accountability

Transparency helps build strong communication and accountability within the workplace. When every team member has a good amount of trust in each other, they can speak their minds without worrying about being judged or ridiculed for unpopular opinions. This increases transparent communication and makes everyone feel more comfortable speaking up when something wrong requires attention.

Accountability is also something that gets stronger in a transparent environment. When people know that others will see their decisions and actions, they’ll think twice about making careless decisions or taking advantage of their position.

In a transparent workplace, teams know how decisions were made and who was responsible for making those decisions. When things don’t go as planned, no one feels left out of the loop. They also will be less likely to blame others unfairly because everyone knew exactly how much input everyone else had.

Creates trustworthy leadership

When you communicate honestly with your employees, they will begin to trust you. When employees trust you, they will feel more comfortable bringing up concerns or asking questions, allowing you to address any small issues before they become big problems.

In addition, team members who trust their leader will also learn to trust each other. A trusting environment allows employees to collaborate better and work towards common goals.

Enhances company culture

Good company culture relies upon transparency in the workplace. Everything already mentioned — engagement, communication, trust — are key to company culture. Without transparency, those factors are lost, and company culture suffers.

When every team member knows exactly what is expected from them, they feel comfortable and confident about their place within the company. This creates a cohesive and productive work environment.

When every employee feels like their input is valued, more people will share their ideas, leading to more innovation, plus a sense of community within the company.

How to Build Effective Culture | Hosted by Steve Wasik

How to create a transparent work environment

Transparency in the workplace starts with leadership. Whether you are a frontline manager or the CEO, you can take steps to create a more transparent work environment.

Start with the recruiting process

The hiring process is an excellent place to start creating a transparent work environment. Write a clear and accurate job description. When you ask a candidate to come in for an interview, explain the full interview process and hiring timeline.

When you extend a job offer, be transparent about salary and benefits, start date, onboarding process, and everything else the new employee needs to know.

Transparency extends to the candidates who weren’t chosen. Thank them for their time, and let them know you went with another candidate.

During the new employee onboarding process, spell out any goals and expectations. In addition, encourage your new employee to ask questions, and point them to all of the resources they might need.

This sets a tone of transparency and allows the employees to know exactly where they stand and how their performance will be monitored—creating transparency within your company, leading to organizational growth and employee satisfaction.

Set clear expectations

Every employee should understand their role within the company, particularly their priorities and their goals. With clear expectations, employees know what to do in order to excel at their job.

Whenever possible, work with each employee to create their own (measurable!) goals and to break down those goals into priorities. They will be more motivated to meet their goals if they have the opportunity to develop their own goals. Provide them with any training and resources needed to excel.

Don’t be afraid to adjust expectations as needed, but always communicate any changes to your employees.

Confirm that employees are on track by providing feedback about their performance and having regular team meetings to discuss progress within your organization. Providing constructive feedback is another aspect of transparency at work.

Provide consistent feedback

Employees can’t know how they’re doing if you don’t tell them. A transparent workplace includes ongoing feedback between all levels of an organization. Offer feedback through formal and informal processes. Formal processes can include quarterly or annual evaluations and reviews. Informal processes can be as simple as briefly responding whenever an employee completes an assignment.

At Insight Global, every employee has a weekly one-on-one meeting with their direct supervisor. This is one way to set up a system for providing (and receiving!) feedback.

When employees understand their performance, and their opportunities for advancement, they will strive to succeed.

Employees want to know how they are viewed and evaluated within management. They want to know what they’re doing well, so they can keep doing it, but they also want to know what they’re doing poorly, so they can improve.

This open, ongoing communication also creates trust between employees and management.

Trust your employees

Part of building transparency in the workplace is extending trust to your employees. Yes, they want feedback, but they don’t want a micro-manager.

Trusting your employees to do their work is a way to avoid the negative consequences of too much transparency. Research shows that when employees feel like they’re constantly under surveillance, productivity and innovation suffer.

Whenever possible, offer your employees flexibility in when and how they do their work. Establish regular check-ins for progress updates or feedback, but avoid hovering or nonstop oversight. Extend trust to your employees, and allow them to work independently, but also give them space to speak up when they have a problem.

Encourage employees to speak their mind

If you want to encourage transparency in your workplace, managers must encourage employees to voice their opinions. Without proactive encouragement and support, employees will hesitate to speak up, fearing repercussions for disagreeing with leadership. Different perspectives lead to better decisions within an organization, so let employees know their opinions matter.

When an employee feels comfortable enough to speak their mind, it can lead to them sharing any problems they might be having with the work. This will allow you as a manager to address these issues before they become big problems for your organization.

In addition, a transparent workplace encourages employees to share new ideas and to question old methods. Fresh perspectives can add innovation and improve efficiency in the workplace.

Conclusion

In this blog, we’ve covered some of the best ways for an organization to implement transparency in the workplace.

If you want to keep your employees happy and engaged, it’s important that they feel heard. As a manager or CEO of any company, transparency is an essential part of success. With honest, ongoing communication, you develop trust with your employees, which boosts morale and engagement.

For these reasons alone, creating a more transparent workplace should become one of your top priorities — especially if you’re looking for sustainable business growth in the long term.

If you need help adding top talent to your team, head over to the Insight Global hiring page and we’ll help you get started today.

Need help finding talented employees? Visit Insight Global's Staffing Services page to get started.