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TheStreet Open House

Why Are So Many Companies Missing the Boat on Corporate Transparency?



By Andre Lavoie

SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- Transparency is important to ensure your best people are moving in the right direction. Yet many companies erect barriers between their best people and put up roadblocks obstructing company goals from view.

"Corporate transparency" doesn't refer just to what investors and activists will see in a filing with the SEC; it also means having a clear line of sight through your company, so upper management understands the allocation of their people and employees understand the purpose of their company.

True company transparency isn't easy to attain, but it can save your bottom line. Consider the average company with only 100 employees -- hardly a large business -- spends up to 17 hours per week just clarifying communication. In dollars, this translates to an annual cost of $528,443 in miscommunication and lost productivity.

This doesn't even take into account employee engagement, which is at an all-time low. When employees can't see how their work contributes and don't understand their place in the company, they disengage from their efforts. According to Gallup, low employee engagement costs the economy upward of $550 billion a year.

Missing the boat on all kinds of corporate transparency is costly. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your team stops working in a fog:

Trust that transparency works.

The No. 1 reason to foster transparency in your company? It works when it comes to engagement, productivity and your organization's bottom line. After all, if transparency didn't work it wouldn't be a buzzword, nor so rapidly adopted by so many companies.

For an example, just look at startups and tech giants embracing the open office floor plan with equally open arms. These companies hope setting up their office in a transparent way will help improve organizational transparency.

Take social media company Buffer. The company has loudly and repeatedly explained how its focus on transparency has helped engage employees and drive workflow. At Buffer, all salaries are public and employees use real-time tracking to keep work aligned. The company is making more than $1 million annually now and executives attribute its success in part to a transparent organizational structure.

You might also want to consider technology retail giant Best Buy. The company noticed the importance of employee engagement -- at an all-time low with 70% of American employees disengaged from their jobs -- and implemented employee engagement initiatives. Tracked carefully, the results found a 0.1% increase in engagement translated into more than $100,000 in one store's operating budget.

Engagement matters, and having a transparent organization in which employees understand their value drives this engagement.

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