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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

Transparent communication: Making it a reality in the workplace

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No matter your organization’s size or industry, honest, transparent communication in the workplace is essential. It can help you keep company culture strong in good times and in bad and retain top talent for years to come. But what does transparent communication at work actually look like, and how can you support it at your company? Read on to find out.

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What does transparent communication in the workplace look like?

Transparent communication is when employees at all levels, from staff to the C-suite, freely and openly communicate with one another. Transparency is the foundation on which successful cultures are built, and it’s especially important when times are tough. Whether it’s leadership’s decision to restructure a department, a manager’s choice to assign additional responsibilities or refuse a promotion, or an employee who’s struggling due to a lack of support, a failure to transparently communicate the reasoning behind a decision and the reality of a situation only breeds mistrust and disengagement.

Practicing transparent communication consistently isn’t always easy, but it becomes much easier with the knowledge that you won’t be looked down upon or punished for expressing your real thoughts. In other words, it relies upon an environment of psychological safety. Transparency also requires embracing the notion of collecting and acting upon feedback. This shows team members that being open can result in actual, positive change at their company, encouraging further transparency.

Most of all, transparent communication requires leadership at your company to be just as open as employees. If team members see that leaders can do as they please without explanation while they’re expected to be open and honest at all times, it won’t be long before they look for a position at a more genuine organization.

The benefits of transparency at work

There are several noteworthy benefits of being transparent in the workplace.

Increased trust

When you’re consistently open about your thoughts and feelings, you build trust among your employees. People appreciate understanding why things are happening, especially when it comes to something as important as their job. Trust helps team members feel safe and respected while they’re at work, and it’s a critical part of any great organization culture.

Improved retention

Retaining employees rather than hiring new ones keeps costs down and helps your company develop talent organically. A transparent culture helps employees feel like they belong and can be themselves. Organizations like that are hard to find, and team members will think twice before building a career at a company that may be less welcoming.

More engaged employees

Transparent communication shows that your organization and those who work for it are all in this together, boosting engagement and keeping employees motivated. If your company shows respect to employees by keeping them in the loop and treating them like individuals, they’ll want to pay it back by giving their all on every assignment.

Better culture

Open communication helps create a culture where employees feel valued and know they have a voice. It also promotes an innovative culture where new ideas and suggestions are more than welcome. When employees know that their unique ideas are appreciated, they’re more likely to express them. Creative employees contribute to new products and services, more efficient processes, and other innovations that help keep your organization competitive.

A strong employer brand

Prospective employees are attracted to organizations that have a reputation for honesty and openness. That’s why it pays to make transparency a core part of your company’s employer brand — the way current and potential team members perceive the organization. This means practicing what you preach, as highlighting transparency in job openings and marketing material while failing to live up to this vision will sink your enterprise’s reputation quickly.

5 ways to foster transparent communication at your workplace

Support transparent communication at your company with these five effective strategies.

1. HR and leadership must set the example

Your HR and leadership teams are in the unique position to inspire employees across the organization and shape how they act at work. If they’re open and honest themselves about what matters most, others will follow suit. Encourage directors, managers, and HR personnel to be direct and frequently share their thoughts and feelings. They should also praise employees when they open up, as what gets recognized gets repeated.

2. Give employees a real voice

Demonstrate that your employees matter and reward their transparency by establishing channels for honest, anonymous feedback. A modern employee engagement platform that includes easy-to-use tools for gathering input in real time — like pulse surveys — is the easiest way to get started. Since some employees may shy away from sharing their true thoughts publicly, these modern tools are a vital part of enabling transparent communication. Solicit feedback on the major drivers of engagement and act quickly on issues raised by team members to incentivize continued transparency.

3. Act on employee feedback

Employees won’t continue to practice transparency if their honesty is rewarded by inaction and obfuscation. Once the results from an employee engagement survey are in, analyze them and encourage managers to design an action plan collaboratively with their team members. This allows your employees to take ownership at work, contribute to positive changes within your organization, and see exactly how and why those changes are happening.

4. Make transparency a habit

To truly foster transparent communication, your managers and employees must be open in every situation. By being straightforward while they communicate about internal processes, major decisions, and even unexpected challenges, there won’t be any secrets, unwanted surprises, or confusion. Practicing transparency when it’s easy or convenient while shifting course when it’s less appealing will signal to employees that your organization’s efforts were never genuine and undermine the trust you’ve built.

5. Prioritize cultural alignment

Culture alignment refers to clearly defining your organizational culture and ensuring employees are in sync with it. Alignment is the foundation for effective communication and psychological safety. When all employees are aligned with your diverse, inclusive culture, they’re respectful of others’ views and know they won’t be rejected or punished for speaking their mind.

Make transparent communication a priority today

In today’s ever-evolving work environment, transparency is crucial. Make it a part of the employee experience at your organization with the help of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. Featuring Achievers Listen, an employee engagement platform with all the tools needed to guide your team from insight to action, and Achievers Recognize, a science-backed reward and recognition platform where you can show appreciation to those who practice transparency, it’s never been easier to enable open, honest communication.

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Profile image of author: Aleksandra Masionis

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