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They can see right through you

The desire for greater transparency has been driven by a number of factors in the working landscape not least, a heightened awareness of the damage secrecy and poor communication can have on businesses. Vincent Belliveau, Senior Vice-President at Cornerstone ondemand, explores.

Today, there is a growing need for organisations to provide seamless and transparent information sharing amongst employees; whether it is visibility of employee goals at different levels within the company to ensure alignment between the individual and the organisation’s objectives, or the reporting of financial targets. Adopting a transparent approach ensures that every employee knows what is expected of them and what they can expect in return. The core benefit of transparency is engagement and encouraging a better working environment, as employees will have an increased understanding of its operations and their part in it. This helps motivate staff as they are able to see how their role supports the organisation and have a clearer career path to follow. It also creates a fairer working environment when employees are kept informed of any policies implemented by the company.

The second core benefit of transparency is in reducing employee churn. Social media sites have made it easier for people to get information on external vacancies. This makes it more important for companies to engage their employees and communicate what they need to achieve to progress. This is backed up by the CIPD Employee Outlook: Autumn 2012 Survey which highlighted the link between employee engagement and employees looking for a new job. The survey found that just seven percent of engaged employees are looking for a new job, compared with a country average of 19 percent. However, there are two main obstacles for companies aiming to increase transparency. The first of these is that the UK is not traditionally transparent. This was highlighted in the CIPD Employee Outlook: Autumn 2012 Survey which found that only 28 percent of employees were aware of their organisation’s values. The second challenge organisations face when embedding transparency is mindset. Some people are not open to change and some employees find it uncomfortable to have their feedback listed and recorded openly.

By making appraisals transparent, open and ongoing, it becomes clear which employees are continually performing and those that are not and makes it easier for organisations to address deficiencies. However, the benefits for employees need to be clearly communicated but not in a way that makes underperforming employees feel victimised in these situations. There are numerous benefits associated with the inclusion of transparency within an organisation not least, as said, employee engagement, the benefits of that hardly need explaining, but this is also directly linked to business performance as demonstrated in Towers Perrin research carried out in 2010, which found that organisations with highly-engaged employees saw a financial increase of 5.80 percent, whilst companies with low employee engagement saw a decrease of 3.39 percent. Engaged employees want their organisation to grow, and therefore do their utmost to maintain brand reputation, provide good service levels and product quality. This is supported by the ‘Getting employees to go the extra mile’ report which found that if employees understand what is expected of them and how this supports their business, they go beyond expectations.

Furthermore, transparency allows employees to fully understand what they have to do in order to progress within an organisation. In a transparent company, employees are able to see what qualities and requirements are needed to gain a promotion, by viewing the progress of their already promoted colleagues. This highlights what skills they need to work on and ensures they know what training they need to get the most out of themselves. For UK organisations, it is becoming increasingly important to implement a transparent model as historically, this is an area that domestic businesses have struggled with. Embedding transparency comes with its own set of unique challenges, but if they are overcome and transparency is delivered in the right way, there are many benefits to be reaped, particularly in the current volatile economy, businesses can expect to be more secure in the future.

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