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Top tips to encourage a transparent work environment

You have heard it before and I am here to tell you again, company culture matters. Bad company culture is one of many dominos that have led to negativity in the workplace- such as the recent phenomenon of quiet quitters. Creating trust between leadership and employees requires a level of mutual accountability that is created through transparency.

As the famous quote goes, the truth will set you free, and in the case of running a company, it will also make your employees happier and more productive. Transparency in the workplace is all about fostering trust so that employees and management of all levels feel comfortable telling the truth. Oftentimes this practice involves breaking down barriers and having tough conversations. However, as employees start to trust the process and feel supported by their management, feedback is more likely to be taken seriously, and employees will want to work hard for the organization. Below offers a walkthrough of several actionable tips that will set your company up for success in creating a transparent environment.

Why A Transparent Work Environment is Important
You have heard it before and I am here to tell you again, company culture matters. Bad company culture is one of many dominos that has led to negativity in the workplace- such as the recent phenomenon of quiet quitters. Creating trust between leadership and employees requires a level of mutual accountability that is created through transparency. This will in turn create a system of compliance within the company that can be strengthened as needed. Decide what your company values most and who your employees are as people outside their roles in the workplace. Understanding these factors will make employees feel as though they are being taken care of by management. In turn they will be likely to entrust management with concerns and feel empowered to ask for increased compensation when they feel undervalued. 

The Recent Phenomenon of Quiet Quitting
Chances are you have heard about the quiet quitting phenomenon in the workplace and more than likely observed it first hand as well. Contrary to what the name assumes, quiet quitting is not about resigning at all, however it can lead to that extreme for some companies as it slowly eats away at morale and culture within an organization. Essentially, the quiet quitters are employees who do exactly what they are supposed to, no more, no less. Doesn’t sound so bad? Well, unfortunately it stems from a bigger issue of decreased recognition and compensation from management that has led them to stop trying to go above and beyond for a company that in their eyes, will never fully appreciate them. Quiet quitters are not the instigators, rather they are reacting to a negative environment around them. They are forcing leaders to listen, and the next steps need to be action. Curbing the quiet quitter phenomenon starts with addressing a larger issue of workplace transparency. 

1)  Creating Speak Up Culture In The Workplace
To effectively implement a speak up culture employees need to know that management is open to and prepared to have tough conversations. Making employees feel comfortable in speaking up requires the development of resources, analysis of metrics to better understand the root cause of issues and recognition of employees who effectively engage. Investment in resources to support company culture is needed whether it be more human capital or increased automation processes. The key step that is going to ensure transparency is analyzing the what, where and why of issues that are brought forward. Additionally recognizing the who, if needed, to create a sense of appreciation amongst employees for their participation. 

2) One-On-One Meetings
One-on-One are meetings set at a cadence, typically weekly or biweekly, where the employee gets a chance to discuss how they have been and if they need help with anything. It is important to understand that each employee will have a different 1-1 method that will work for them, and it is important to be flexible. Is it asking questions about how they’re feeling, is it about asking about their week, is it asking how you can delegate their workload? Is it about motivating them or reminding them about vacation/sick days/mental health days to get a much needed R & R? All of this will provide a great foundation of how transparency and accommodating your workplace environment really is.

These meetings help each employee comb through smaller concerns with their direct superior before they become larger non-compliance issues. Providing opportunities for employees to be honest about their work experience is a key component of transparency. Each level of management from senior executive to entry-level staff can benefit from these meetings. By opening the floor to address concerns and ensuring the meeting is concluded with next steps in place, the subordinate employee is more likely to feel heard while management is able to escalate issues brought forward, if necessary. 

3) Implementing Employee Feedback Surveys Regularly
To achieve full transparency in the workplace, you need to be asking your employees what they need from you on a regular basis. Anonymous employee feedback surveys are a great tool to get the ball rolling. Find a format that works best for your organization even if it takes a couple trial runs. You want to figure out where the company is falling short of employee support overall but a lot of the time that information is in the details. If you ask a broad question and there is low participation, look to see if you can specify your inquiries. For example, try asking employees to both praise and critique their closest superior, and maybe even ask what kind of support employees need from each other. Honesty fosters transparency, and employees are more likely to be completely honest when they are safeguarded by their anonymity.

4) Integrate Anonymous Whistleblower Reporting Tools
Another tool that maintains anonymity while also supporting compliance is ethics reporting hotlines and intake forms. A whistleblower hotline can be integrated into any company either internally or outsourced externally for third party monitoring. Employees at the baseline level of intake that converse directly with vendors and suppliers are usually the first to notice suspicious activity and therefore rely on an outlet to report misconduct without the fear of retaliation. Moreover, with the rise of cybersecurity threats any industry can fall vulnerable to human error, negligence, data breaches, or phishing campaigns and therefore all can benefit from increased compliance through the implementation of a hotline. 

Integrating a hotline may take different forms depending on the company, the biggest question is whether you want to implement it internally or externally. While a voicemail system available on an ad-hoc basis may seem sufficient, smaller companies may quickly find they lack the budget needed to staff and service the system. External services can help better maintain the 24/7/365 availability of the hotline and provide more options for interpretation services to allow employees to report in their native tongue. 

For employees who prefer to file reports anonymously instead of calling you can implement a web intake form. Through a questionnaire style system, the reporting individual has full control over the details included and level of anonymity they would like to receive. The platform is web and mobile-enabled, multilingual, has attachment options and is easily customizable for companies. The intake form has all the same benefits of the hotline as it promotes speak-up culture, maximizes anonymity and is quick to garner action on serious issues. Additionally, it provides administration with tools for real time data collection and insight in how to plan informed next steps. Both the hotline and web intake form ensure collection and tracking of crucial information that makes sure no issue gets swept under the rug.

Ultimately, creating a transparent work environment is not an easy task. It requires investment in resources and monitoring of compliance to ensure that communication is a two way street. Each of these four recommendations can work alongside each other to help create a more transparent environment. Each company will differ on how they chose to implement these practices. Start with finding out what your employees need most, either through a survey or one-on-one meetings and then go from there. No organization or management staff is perfect, but if you make a conscious effort to transform your organization with the value of transparency, you will be on the right track.  If there is one thing to be learned from the quiet quitters it is that organizations can no longer proceed without endorsing the proper mechanisms for employee support.

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    21 April 2024


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