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7 min read

9 ways to promote transparency in the workplace

Transparency in the workplace yields engaged employees and better overall performance. These tips will help you establish a more open company culture.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

A study by Slack showed that more than 80% of workers want greater transparency from leadership, and 87% look for workplace transparency from future employers. Most organizations equate transparency with open communication – itself a valuable aspect of a healthy company culture. But is it synonymous with transparency in the workplace? 

Being transparent goes beyond the info you communicate to employees and stakeholders. This philosophy influences every aspect of your team or business operations, building a workplace culture based on trust, accountability, and honest feedback. 

Fostering a culture of business transparency can be challenging. It requires an ongoing commitment from all levels to model transparent behaviors. Although it’s hard work, transparency is well worth the effort, as it benefits team members and the company through increased employee engagement, reduced stress, and greater productivity.

How to define transparency in the workplace

In business, transparency means keeping employees in the loop, communicating good and bad results, and remaining receptive to team members’ feedback. 

When targeting transparency as a company goal, managers share information and avoid unpleasant surprises. Leadership choices are decisive, while employee advocacy is expected and encouraged. Employees enjoy boosted morale when they aren’t operating in an environment of uncertainty

A policy of transparency doesn’t exclusively apply to an organization’s upper echelons; it’s expected of all supervisors. Project managers are just as responsible as the CEO. It’s up to you to set clear expectations and communicate honestly about all business activities, including the hiring process, while encouraging your team to do the same. 

Why is workplace transparency important?

A transparent corporate culture ensures employee engagement, improved worker satisfaction, lower attrition, and a strong reputation among job candidates. Here are a few specific positive outcomes that stem from transparency:

  • Reduced stress and burnout

  • Increased customer service and loyalty

  • Decreased absenteeism

  • Fewer safety incidents

  • Improved product quality

Organizations that build trust and openness into their processes empower employees in return. Staff share constructive feedback and insights without fear of judgment or backlash, prompting improvements and innovation.

Research has verified these benefits. Companies that invest the most in employee happiness through transparency and other engagement practices report profits 23% higher than those in the bottom quartile of employee engagement. This is due, in part, to satisfied staff driving 18% higher sales productivity. 

The benefits of a transparent work environment

A transparent work environment provides many organizational benefits, and many of these perks translate to its teams. Transparency in your day-to-day project management practices offers several advantages:

1. Increases performance and accountability

When you make tasks and responsibilities visible to the project team, you drive ownership, accountability, and enhanced communication. Team members who observe each other’s progress on a task feel motivated to follow suit. The open environment also encourages employees to communicate when they’re struggling, prompting early intervention that leads to better outcomes. 

2. Eliminates nasty surprises before it’s too late

Uncertainty makes project managers and their teams antsy. They want to know where their work stands. Transparency ensures everyone understands the project’s status – the good, the bad, and the ugly – allowing the group to pivot and get the initiative back on track before extreme measures become necessary. 

3. Secures buy-in and ownership from the entire team

Project transparency encourages a feeling of ownership among the workforce regarding individual tasks and project status. Employees are more likely to anticipate problems and contribute solutions, securing buy-in for tough decisions. 

Transparency also shows employees which of their coworkers are relying on them to complete a task, motivating them to stay on track for delivery.

4. Creates trust between clients and peers 

Transparency is the first step toward establishing trust. Team members, stakeholders, and clients want visibility into a project’s potential and challenges before committing their support. Without it, they won’t have the confidence to invest the funds or resources needed to bring the project to fruition. 

9 ways to promote workplace transparency

Establishing a company-wide transparency policy isn’t easy. Some leaders may hold an entrenched attitude against it. But that doesn’t preclude you from enshrining visibility and openness within your team’s processes. Who knows? Leading by example may encourage others in the workplace to do the same. Here’s how to get started:

1. Start by being transparent with your project teams

Begin by walking the talk – model transparency and demonstrate its benefits. For example, be honest when you don’t know the answer to a question. Then, commit to finding the answer. Admit to errors and work on solutions rather than sweep them under the rug. Championing transparency, even when faced with failure, demonstrates two things:

  • Your leadership qualities hold fast when things go wrong

  • When team members make mistakes, they can move forward by being honest and trying to find solutions.

At the team level, transparency requires the ability to make mistakes, to be honest, and to ask questions. 

2. Explain your decisions

Encourage feedback to make your team members feel involved. They may have valuable insights or opinions about an issue that can improve future decision-making. Once you finalize the decision, explain how their views informed your choices.

3. Develop transparent work processes

Collaboration and project management tools naturally build transparency into team management processes. These software solutions centralize information, making it accessible to everyone. Team members can view work distribution and task status, so the project’s progress (or lack thereof) is no surprise.

4. Make yourself available

You can’t promote transparency from behind a closed door. Still, an open-door policy isn’t enough. Get out and walk around the office. Approach colleagues to find out if they have questions about a project or need extra help. And don’t save praise for one-on-one meetings. Compliment team members in front of their coworkers. It means a lot.

5. Know when to keep information to yourself

Sensitive topics, like salary transparency, can be challenging to navigate. If your boss shares sensitive information with you, ask whether you can communicate it to your team. If the answer is no, be honest with your team without breaching confidentiality: “I would like to discuss it, but management isn’t ready to release the details.” 

When in doubt, seek guidance from the HR department.

6. Ask employees what information they need, then get it for them

Create systems that allow team members to access information, resources, or contacts whenever required, including the project’s financial information. A cloud-based project management tool ensures open communication channels.

7. Respond positively to honesty

Honesty benefits your team, even when it’s an uncomfortable truth. Welcome it from anyone, including your subordinates, and thank them for their candor. Speaking up is difficult, especially when it’s bad news, so be empathetic. If it’s a criticism of your performance, seek advice on how to improve. If a coworker is struggling, work with them to find a solution.  

8. Socialize with coworkers

Participating in team-building events such as lunch and learns or group workshops will remove barriers between coworkers, allowing you to get to know each other. By learning about colleagues’ families, work histories, and personal passions, you’ll build a better workforce while establishing communal bonds, building trust, and having fun.  

9. Be transparent with your customers

Transparency with clients is the trickiest form of openness. You want to ensure a positive collaboration throughout the project’s lifecycle, so control what the client can and can’t see. Provide access, where possible, to documents that offer enough information to evaluate progress and prepare for potential issues. Examples include:

  • Project timelines

  • Project plans

  • Task lists

  • Completed documents

  • Current status reports

At the same time, keep anything that may undermine the client’s belief in your group behind closed doors.

Tempo can help you foster transparency in the workplace

Companies need more than just a desire to build trust and employee engagement. They need the right tools to establish a transparent workplace culture. Fortunately, Tempo has what you need. 

Use Strategic Roadmaps to communicate project strategy, prioritize task backlogs, and manage dependencies while creating visibility into the project planning process. With an audience-ready project roadmap, team members can identify and prepare for what comes next. 

You can wrangle the chaos of project management with Portfolio Manager, Tempo’s solution for managing task assignments and team capacity. Its powerful project and resource management capabilities help you break through information silos and visualize work distribution and team performance across multiple projects.

With Tempo, transparency is more than a concept. It’s reality.