What attracts quality job candidates to your company?
Is it the salaries you offer? The secondary perks? The nature of the work in each position?
These things matter, of course. But even with great salaries, perks, and fulfilling work in place, not everyone is going to feel attracted to your organization.
And one of the critical factors responsible for building or compromising job applicant interest is workplace transparency.
What Is Workplace Transparency?
What is workplace transparency, exactly?
Essentially, a transparent environment is one that promotes the free and open exchange of information between parties. Optimizing your organization for workplace transparency typically means openly revealing goals and motivations, honestly answering questions, and providing additional information whenever necessary. Nothing (or very little) hidden. No deceit. No obfuscation.
Transparency can apply both internally and externally. An organization that’s internally transparent is willing to share information between employees and leaders openly. One that’s externally transparent will disclose details to clients, vendors, partners, and the general public willingly.
Maintaining a transparent environment is good for business – and in several ways. According to a 2018 Slack survey, 87 percent of workers wanted their next job to be transparent. And consumers increasingly value purchasing from businesses with transparent practices.
Why Is Workplace Transparency Beneficial for Hiring?
So why is workplace transparency valuable for your recruiting and hiring strategy?
There are several interconnected effects:
- Better candidates (and fewer bad fits). If your organization is consistently upfront and honest about how it operates, what its values are, and what it’s looking for in job candidates, you’re naturally going to attract better quality applicants. There will always be occasional applicants who don’t read your job descriptions and don’t research your company, but overall, with a transparent workplace strategy in place, you’ll end up with fewer bad fits and poor candidates.
- Higher levels of trust and interest. Improving workplace transparency is also a way to generate more trust in your brand and, by extension, more interest from qualified candidates. People want to work for organizations they trust and respect, so if you make your organization more respect worthy, it’s only natural that a greater number of people will want to work for it.
- Gateways to collaboration and innovation. Facilitating higher transparency opens the door to better collaboration and more innovation, sometimes before a candidate is even hired. If, during the interview process, a job candidate fully understands the organization’s goals and the purpose of the job for which they’re applying, they may be able to volunteer genuine ideas and insights that can help the company move forward.
- Higher employee engagement. Though the survey is a bit dated at this point, in 2013, workplace transparency was the number-one factor for employee happiness. Even if that popularity has changed over the years, there’s no question that higher workplace transparency is associated with higher employee engagement and productivity. After hiring and onboarding new candidates, your transparent practices will lead to better results for everyone involved.
- Stronger leaders. As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Leaders that are forced to operate in a transparent environment face constant pressure to justify their decisions and explain their motivations. This naturally encourages leaders to showcase more integrity, think critically about their decisions, and make sincere efforts. In other words, transparent workplaces support strong leadership.
Now let’s look at the strategies that can help you build and maintain a more transparent environment.
Start With the Culture
A transparent organization must be built with a transparent foundational culture. If your company culture is fundamentally supportive of transparency, the people within your organization will naturally be more transparent. Make sure you include transparency as one of your organization’s core values, and selectively hire and promote candidates who demonstrate transparency and integrity.
Obviously, company culture is about more than just a list of core values, so make sure that your company operates with transparency in mind on a daily basis.
Openly Communicate Everything About Your Business (Within Reason)
The heart of transparency is open communication, so try to openly communicate everything about your business (within reason – obviously, you don’t need to disclose proprietary secrets or feed valuable information to your competitors). When issuing press releases and public reports, avoid ambiguity and be specific. When announcing upcoming changes or major issues within your company, be as thorough as possible.
Hiding or suppressing pieces of information is only going to work against your organization in the long run. Even if these pieces of information are negative or harmful, disclosing them in full sunlight will give people more trust in your organization. No organization is perfect – but only some are willing to honestly admit to their mistakes.
Instate Transparent Leaders
An organization’s culture tends to flow from the top down. If your leaders conduct themselves in a specific way, your employees will probably follow suit.
That’s why it’s important to instate and support transparent leaders within your organization.
Transparent leaders should:
- Communicate and explain goals. What is your team supposed to achieve in the next quarter? Why are they supposed to achieve it? How is this going to help the organization in the long term? Are there any doubts or concerns about this set of goals? Everyone in your company deserves to know what they’re working for – and job candidates will want to know as well.
- Explain missteps and controversial actions. The true test of a transparent leader is whether they’re willing to reveal and discuss negative pieces of information. For example, reducing or eliminating employee benefits could inspire outrage among your employees; is your leader willing to explain why they’re doing this and honestly address employee concerns? If a leader makes a mistake, are they willing to own up to it and explain what went wrong?
- Answer questions. When employees, journalists, partners, and investors ask questions, are your leaders prepared to give honest, direct answers? Commonly, unconfident and untransparent leaders respond to tough questions with dismissiveness, avoidance, and misdirection. Confident, transparent leaders are willing to address them head on.
- Remain open to other perspectives. Transparency is a two-way street. Are your leaders willing to openly listen to other people when they share different ideas and perspectives?
Practice Social Recruiting
If you practice workplace transparency consistently, you can rely on at least some word of mouth to boost your company reputation; former and existing employees will speak highly of their average experience. But you also need to make an effort to showcase your transparent workplace to other people – and preferably groups that could have promising job candidates.
One of the best approaches here is to stay active on social media. With the help of active social recruiting, social media marketing, and regular updating, you can disclose important details about your company’s philosophies, operations, and major decisions.
If you’re consistent enough, candidates will be able to see – at a distance – just how open and honest your business is.
Respond to Controversies and Criticism Directly and Honestly
The true test of transparency for an organization lies in how they handle controversies and criticism.
When your company suffers a PR disaster, do you try to bury the story, or do you openly respond to it?
When you make a decision that inspires backlash, do you ignore the critics or offer counterpoints?
If you want your organization to be seen as transparent by current employees and future job candidates alike, you need to be willing to respond to these negative elements both directly and honestly. Don’t shy away from these topics, don’t mislead your followers, and definitely don’t try to cover things up – or else you’ll make things worse via the Streisand Effect.
Publish and Openly Allow Job Information
Historically, many companies have carefully guarded their job and employment information. But in today’s great age of information accessibility, it’s not hard for online sleuths to find whatever answers they want.
If you want to maximize workplace transparency, and increase appeals to new prospective candidates, consider publishing and openly allowing information on your jobs to exist online.
Publish information on:
- Salaries. What do your employees make? What kind of benefits are available? When and how do you give raises?
- Employee reviews and feedback. What do former and current employees say about your organization? How seriously do you take employee feedback and when do you act on it?
- Position and hierarchy information. How is your organization structured? Who reports to whom? And how much power does the average employee have?
Facilitate Transparency in Internal Meetings and Discussions
Transparency is perhaps most important in the context of internal meetings and discussions. Are your leaders and employees able to discuss complex topics on equal footing and with both honesty and integrity?
These are some of the best ways to facilitate more transparency internally:
- Host regular updates. Nobody wants to be a slave to repetitive, unnecessary meetings. But it’s also a good idea to meet frequently and provide updates within a team. Each meeting is an opportunity to have an open conversation, and the more successful meetings you have, the more comfortable each individual is going to be voicing their opinions. This is also an opportunity for individuals to report about what projects they’re working on, the challenges they’re facing, and the ideas they’ve been thinking about.
- Request full participation. Good communication skills are a must for employees in almost any position. Put these skills to good use by requesting full participation by all meeting attendees. It’s a great way to facilitate more open communication, and it forces some naturally taciturn people to express what they truly think. If pushed to contribute, more people will ask genuine questions, push back on flawed ideas, and offer unique perspectives – all of which are conducive to a more transparent environment.
- Treat all opinions with respect. Nobody is going to voice their opinions honestly if you consistently shoot down people who say things that don’t conform to mainstream opinion. It’s important to treat all ideas, and all meeting suggestions with respect. That doesn’t mean you have to accept all opinions, or that you have to act on them – but you do have to engage with them with politeness and acknowledgment. Part of transparency is being willing to offer counterpoints and criticism, so definitely feel free to respond to bad or unfinished ideas with points about how to make them better or explanations for why they’re not going to work.
- Eliminate retaliation. Similarly, you’re going to stifle the honesty and integrity of your employees if retaliation is, in any capacity, a realistic threat. Make sure none of your leaders or managers exercise even the subtlest degree of retaliation for dissenting opinions, contradicting viewpoints, or critical questions.
- Collect and act on employee feedback regularly. Finally, monitor the transparency of your organization and the health of your conversations by collecting and acting on employee feedback regularly. Do employees genuinely feel like they can say what they want to say? Do they trust the honesty and integrity of their leaders? Do they have ideas for how to make meetings even more collaborative? Allow employees to submit these surveys anonymously to encourage more honest answers.
Confront Internal Workplace Issues Head On
Even transparent organizations often struggle with controversies and internal workplace issues. When they occur, be ready to confront them head on. Instead of ignoring potential issues and waiting for them to go away, openly acknowledge them and talk about them. Your employees will be grateful, even if you don’t have a perfect solution in mind yet.
Monitor Brand Mentions and Customer Attitudes
Just as you must collect employee feedback to determine internal attitudes, it’s wise to monitor your brand mentions and customer attitudes. How do consumers and investors feel about the integrity of your organization? Is your brand hailed as a bastion of transparency? Or do people feel like you’re hiding something? Make changes accordingly.
The Difficulty of Changing Your Reputation
It’s tough to change the image of an entire company. It’s even tougher when that company is large, old, or otherwise entrenched. Working to create a more transparent environment and build a more respectable reputation is something that could take months or years – so try not to be discouraged if you don’t see an immediate surge of new job candidates once you roll out your new approach to company culture.
Are you working on improving internal workplace transparency? Doing so could be a massive boon for your hiring and recruiting strategy – and so could working a recruiting agency. We have the team members, the experience, and the resources necessary to help you tackle your hardest recruiting and staffing problems. Contact us for more information today!
Ryan has served in the Staffing and Recruiting industry for over 10 years. As an independent recruiter and business owner Ryan partners with decision-makers to attract, hire, and attain top-tier professionals to succeed and grow their companies. Ryan consistently implements new tools to help the needs of both clients and candidates until they are satisfied. With years of direct experience and knowledge from scaling and disrupting other major global industries. If you don't see Ryan with his family he is hard at work finding the right fit for your organization's open roles.
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