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Transparency Matters in Business and it’s all about trust

Christian Wylonis, CEO, The Org

For a growing number of employees, work isn’t just a place to clock in the hours, pick up a paycheck and have the occasional Friday night drink. People are seeking out opportunities that align with their values and future goals, where they can understand  how they fit into a business and help achieve its vision.

Over the past decade, corporate transparency has become increasingly important for jobseekers and longstanding employees alike, especially for younger generations. Diversity, honesty and commitment are now top priorities, alongside compensation and benefits, and transparency has become a fundamental part of job selection.

To better understand employees’ current mindset, The Org conducted a study — with more than 1,000 respondents across all ages of working adults in the U.S. — to gauge businesses’ shortcomings when it comes to transparency. The recently released findings of The Org’s survey offer key takeaways for businesses to consider as transparency continues to be an important factor for employees and jobseekers. 

What does transparency in business look like today?
This past year, amid the global reckoning of systemic racism and injustice and the coronavirus pandemic’s acceleration of remote work trends, was a pivotal time for companies to prove their levels of transparency, and through that, their commitment to justice and equity.

However, nearly half of respondents felt there’d been no improvement in transparency at their place of work. Additionally, almost  one third of respondents said their place of work had become less transparent since shifting to working from home. For Millennials in particular, 80% said they believed their work life would be better if the company they worked for was transparent, and 74% said they want their companies to be more transparent. 

Employees who feel unsatisfied with their company’s commitment to openness and transparency are demanding more or looking elsewhere — 70% of respondents said they would take one job offer over another if one company was more transparent. And fair enough, we spend a great portion of our lives at work and make many sacrifices for it.

How can businesses start to make change?
At the core of it, transparency is about building trust with employees and the community at large by publicly sharing information beyond what benefits the company. That information differs between companies, but common elements include company structure and team size, employee salaries and company revenue, values and culture, and company strategies and processes. Being transparent with internal information goes against the grain of how businesses traditionally operate, which means there needs to be a high-level shift — and it’s not just to benefit employees. When businesses have an engaged and motivated employee-base, they’re likely to see an increase in productivity and innovation. Trust equates to teamwork and commitment.

A fundamental part of corporate transparency, as basic as it sounds, is knowing who you work for and who you work with. But surprisingly, many employees don’t. Generally, people don’t know where they sit in an organization, which limits internal collaboration. It is also difficult to find the right person to contact in other organizations. Org charts help define reporting structures and processes to ensure information is shared transparently throughout the company, improving internal collaboration and alignment. On top of solving pain points, they add value to businesses by showcasing employees, building trust, attracting talent, and ultimately attracting customers. 

However, few are shared publicly. According to the survey, 53% of women had not seen the organizational chart for their company and 54% didn’t have visibility into their company’s numbers. This was staggeringly different compared to men, where those numbers were 44% and 46%, respectively.  Additionally, 61% of Gen Z respondents said they had never seen the org chart of the company they worked for — a clear indication that today’s employers need to be making this a priority.

What matters most to Millennial employees?
When employees were asked what mattered most to them at their place of work, the majority said knowing their company’s values and culture. This was particularly apparent  for younger generations, who are all in when it comes to corporate transparency. Company values and culture was the most relatable characteristic for Millennials at 37% Employee salaries and company revenue and company strategy and process were their other top rated characteristics. 

Additionally, 38% of Millennials said that their place of work has shared a public commitment towards transparency — higher then Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomer respondents — and only 22% of Millennials say they don’t know or understand their company’s strategy for success and what their role is in it — the lowest of all of the generations. This , coupled with the fact that 84% of Millennials said they would be more loyal to a brand that was transparent, shows how strong their commitment is to being part of something.

By all accounts, Millennials value transparency.

Job seekers and employees want transparency
Following values and culture, respondents said knowing a company’s strategy and procedures was most important to them, followed by employee salaries and company revenue, and understanding company structure and team size.

Overall, 68% of respondents said they wanted their companies to increase transparency efforts, and 73% said their work life would be improved by their companies doing so.

Long story short, transparency matters and is much more than a buzzword to keep employees satisfied while companies inherently try to keep them at bay. For businesses committed to success, both internally and externally, opening up their processes will spur innovation and growth, and must be a top priority.

Sharing financial information, hiring strategies and values are important to attracting and retaining top talent, and will continue to be as we proceed on our global push for corporate transparency and accountability.

By highlighting and celebrating an entire team, not just the big names, individuals will get the credit they deserve, employees and consumers will better understand company structure, and business will become a lot more accountable and personal.

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