Honesty is the best policy: Companies need a transparent culture to attract and retain the best talent

 
Paul Joyce
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Pinocchio isn't the only one who should stop telling porkies (Source: Getty)

As we head into 2016, the job market is soaring towards unprecedented levels of competition. Employers looking to attract and retain top talent can no longer rely on big salaries alone in the year to come. Many are already relying on a growing list of perks from flexi-working to free beer to inspiring office spaces.

However, while companies become more creative at providing perks, there are still basic principles which they need to get right if they really want to attract the best talent.

Recent research showed that one in four workers have become dissatisfied at work and left their job simply because they felt cut out of the information loop. It seems that one non-negotiable work requirement for many of us is having a clear view of company performance. A corporate policy of honesty.

A transparent business culture should keep your workforce motivated, however most companies are falling short, with the research also finding that four in five employees wanted their bosses to share more information with them.

Read more: Could openness be hurting your business?

So, how can bosses prevent uncertainty building and their workers heading for the door? The first step is recognising the problem.

Many bosses hide behind the principle that it's better to conceal information if it’s bad news. However, nine in ten employees would actually prefer to hear the news rather than be kept in the dark.

The next step is making sure you communicate data in a way that employees understand, make use of and, most importantly, appreciate that it is being shared.

Dumping buckets of information sporadically won’t help. Any weighty presentation or spreadsheet will likely end up in the digital/physical trash and won’t register as a real attempt to be open. Focus on sharing the information which has the most impact on the business.

It's important to think about the way you visualise the information too. There are simple tricks to this, based on human psychology and studies of how the brain consumes data. For example, because we read left to right in the west, the most important piece of information should be positioned in the top left corner.

Read more: Better skills mean better productivity

Graphs may seem ideal for plotting out key company metrics, however try not to overcomplicate them. Pie charts are particularly poor at conveying data quickly because the size and scale of each segment gets lost in the image and it’s easy to misinterpret the data.

Colour is one of the most powerful tools to convey information. It’s what’s called a pre-attentive attribute, meaning our brains can assign significance to colour very quickly, without conscious thought.

Make a number green and we immediately know that metric is travelling in the right direction. If overused however, colours compete with each other and dilute the brain’s ability to interpret data. Stick to just two or three powerful colours to signify the most important points.

Once company data is communicated effectively, it should not only have positive internal impacts, but external ones too. For example, TechCity UK, an organisation which accelerates the growth of UK digital businesses, showcase their data across their offices so visitors can see the impact that their work is having.

If companies want to attract and keep top talent, building a culture of clear communication and transparency will go a long way. Not only will employees be far more likely to stay on side - your reputation as a business could begin to precede you too.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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