Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor
By Robert Hohman
July 21, 2015

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer for: How do you build trust with your employees? is by Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor.

Workplace transparency is one of those buzz phrases that’s bandied about at companies large and small. But as many organizations have learned, only giving it lip service could ultimately come back to bite you.

Employees of the 21st century want to know what’s really going on behind closed doors. We have collected reviews from employees at more than 400,000 companies around the world and have seen common themes among the highest-rated companies. And one thing is clear: it’s no longer just about the paycheck. While pay is important, employees place a significant amount of weight on company culture, career advancement opportunities and senior leadership. People want to work somewhere they feel respected and valued. They want to connect to the company’s mission and vision, as well as be kept abreast about progress along the way. Even more so, they want to know how they personally can make an impact and move up the ranks.

Being open and transparent with your workforce builds trust and loyalty, which can result in higher productivity, less turnover and organic team building. Here are the three most important things needed for a transparent work environment:

Honesty needs to start with the C-suite
Whether your company maintains honest and upfront communication or breeds a culture of fear, it generally starts with the CEO and other senior executives. If the executive team doesn’t trust each other, attempts to control the flow of information and has only surface conversations, it will be near impossible to foster transparency throughout the rest of the organization. However, if the CEO and executive team actively practice open dialogues that include discussing the impact their choices and behaviors will have in the workplace, others will follow. As a result, it will create a healthier and more productive work environment. We see it in survey after survey: employees will quit if their employer, leaders or managers aren’t being completely honest and upfront.

EQ is equally important as IQ
The best way to achieve a transparent workplace is to give equal, if not more, weight to emotional intelligence (EQ) versus intellectual intelligence (IQ.) EQ is the ability to interact and connect with your coworkers as people. We are driven by our emotions and connections. The goal is to recognize those feelings that impact how you work, and find productive ways to share them that’s in the best interest of your employees and business. However, to be effective, EQ needs to start at the top and trickle down. That means as the CEO I have to be able to identify my emotions and manage them in a way that supports our mission. By creating an environment where people can own and share their emotions rather than keep them bottled up, you not only boost productivity but also create a workplace that people actually look forward to coming to each day.

Practice what you preach
Whether or not you successfully create (and maintain) a culture built around transparency and EQ, your employees will be sharing their opinions near and far, for the world to see. Long gone are the days where workers sat quietly, accepting whatever the company meted out. If a company’s own messaging doesn’t jive with its cultural reality, you can bet employees will be the first to set the record straight. And those listening intently will be your potential employees, customers, media, investors and other stakeholders. Are you comfortable with that?

Everyone is living in a much more transparent world; it’s no wonder people expect their workplace to embody the same trend. So ask yourself this: Are you and your executives already embracing this shift or will your employees have to drag you there? Or will they simply find another transparent workplace culture that’s a better fit for them?

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