What Is the Meaning of Transparency in the Workplace?

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The reasons certain companies have productive and lively workplaces go beyond hiring efficient employees and paying good wages. Workplace transparency can increase productivity and employee happiness, and it can decrease the turnover rate. The responsibility of introducing transparency into the workplace falls upon the shoulders of company management and is as simple as keeping employees up to date with workplace changes.

Definition

Transparency in the workplace refers to how and why something occurs. For example, if Company A identifies efficient workers and promotes them without revealing what separated the efficient and inefficient workers, it would be considered a lack of transparency. There’s no indication as to how the workers are chosen for a promotion. If Company B states all employees who exhibit X, Y and Z qualities will be considered for a promotion, then Company B’s promotions are transparent.

Lack of Transparency

A lack of transparency can lead to disgruntled workers who question the company’s actions. When employees aren’t told why something happens, they are left to form their own assumptions, which can cause rumors that hurt the company’s relations with the public as well as with employees. A lack of transparency effectively destroys trust in the workplace. When a company knowingly keeps employees in the dark, it's telling them they can’t be trusted with the information. A workplace that isn’t transparent often leads to decreased productivity and a high turnover rate. According to Deloitte’s 2010 Ethics and Workplace Survey, 48 percent of surveyed executives believed a lack of transparency in leadership communications would cause a higher turnover rate.

Too Much Transparency

A workplace that’s too transparent can cause unneeded panic and too much insight into the company. For example, if a company is conducting extensive employee productivity reports to prepare for a layoff, explaining the reasoning to the employees would cause workplace morale and productivity to plummet. If telling employees why or how something is occurring could cause significant problems, it’s best to avoid transparency.

Increasing Workplace Transparency

Since most companies don’t have a problem with too much transparency, removing it typically isn’t something companies struggle with, unlike increasing transparency. After assessing whether relaying information to employees will cause significant problems, managers can work on increasing transparency. By simply letting employees know why decisions are made and actions are taken, a company can slowly introduce transparency into the workplace. For example, if a company increases wages for three out of six salespeople, it can explain that those employees’ wages were increased because of meeting the sales and attendance goals and then outline exactly what those goals were.

References

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images