There’s a new feature on the career website Glassdoor; a status icon that appears when the employer has embraced transparency. Employers are given this status when they claim their online profile and commit to open and public communication via the Glasshouse website. Glasshouse is helping transform the face of corporate transparency. At the click of a mouse it can reveal what goes on behind closed doors; from CEO horror stories to salary bands.

Public interest in what goes on behind corporate walls is not new but until recently the window into the workings of companies was restricted to press releases, annual reports and ‘about us’ pages. Social media has opened businesses to the public sphere. And it’s not just employees that are exposing the inner workings of their companies; customers, investors and regulators are all involved in this discussion.

Whether intended or not, organisations now have to engage with employees in an impartial environment and respond publically to assertions about their values, culture and conduct. Those that don’t participate in this dialogue risk loss of credibility, trust and ultimately customer and employee loyalty.

In our latest research into employee engagement, we’ve identified transparency as one of five key business challenges that organisations need to tackle to remain competitive and win the war for talent. As an employee, I find transparency to be a powerful tool for getting insights on ‘how it is to work around here’ – the company culture. I want to know that I’m working for a company that’s committed to an open dialogue with its people. And I’m not alone.  Glassdoor’s own research supports that. It showed that 96 per cent of job seekers think it’s important to work for a company that embraces transparency.

Transparency requires businesses to be more accountable and more responsive. Frequent, open and honest communication with the workforce will be crucial to keeping people engaged.

“Organisations now have to engage with employees in an impartial environment and respond publically to assertions about their values, culture and conduct”


Nothing to hide or nowhere to hide?

Authenticity, honesty and openness have become all the more important when running a business in a transparent world. Companies have to translate their values into their day to day operations if they want to build trust with their stakeholders. Otherwise their values are just words and may do more harm than good.

Let’s take the issue of gender pay for example. It’s easy to proclaim that companies encourage gender diversity and equal pay but are their practices supporting these claims? A quick search on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website or inyourhands.org.au  can expose the details of a company’s gender employment practices.

The general public is increasingly interested in social and environmental values of organisations. There are a range of websites where employees and other stakeholders can gauge how well organisations are living these values. For instance, sites like Fairtrade, Sustainability Disclosure, Behind the Barcode provide information that can reveal uncomfortable truths about businesses. Blogs and social media websites complete the picture. There is nowhere to hide.

What can we do about it now?

Engaged employees are as critical to business growth as they are to maintaining a positive reputation in a transparent world.  Employees can be your most influential brand ambassadors and should not be overlooked. Addressing transparency internally can have a strong impact on employee engagement. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make it clear what people need to do to reach the next level or achieve their career goals. Having consistency across the organisation through calibrated performance assessments and promotions criteria is important in letting people know what to do to progress. We often see people feeling that they have a future with a company as being a driver of effectiveness and loyalty, but our research with millions of employees worldwide shows that 41% don’t feel they have a clear career path.
  • Be honest about employee survey results. This is key at all levels of a company. From the initial communications about the results and the shape of the company to local action planning, this needs to be an open and honest dialogue with staff. Managers especially need to know they’ve got the support they need to make change, so they don’t feel tempted to sweep bad news under the carpet.
  • Back to Glassdoor.com – consider the impact that an unclaimed employer profile might have, especially when compared to a competitor that might be engaging current and potential employees using this powerful platform.

For more advice on overcoming the transparency challenge download our new report Engaging hearts & minds: Preparing for a changing world.

What steps is your organisation putting in place to be more transparent? And do you think it’ll become increasingly difficult to adapt to in the future? It’d be great to hear from you! Contact me at chris.mayler@kornferry.com.

Is your engagement strategy fit for the future? Download our infographic.

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About Contributor

Chris Mayler is a Senior Client Director for Korn Ferry Advisory, Australia. For the last 15 years, Chris helped organisations maximise the potential of their workforce to drive business performance.

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