Should you open the books to employees?

Should you open the books to employees?

Should you open the books to employees? Should you open the books to employees? It’s a question many employers have asked themselves over the years and it seems more and more are opting to do so.

A recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources asked CFOs within privately held Canadian companies to answer the question; “Does your company provide employees with regular updates on the company’s quarterly and annual financial performance?”

While the majority (37 per cent) said they share no financial information with workers, 26 per cent said they share the information with select employees and 27 per cent confirmed they share financial information with all employees. The remaining 10 per cent didn’t know or opted not to answer.

The CFOs were also asked how interested they felt employees were in hearing about financial performance with the vast majority indicating at least some level of interest. In fact, 20 per cent said they felt their employees were very interested and 35 per cent said their employees seemed somewhat interested.

Just two per cent of CFOs felt their employees were not at all interested and 31 per cent felt their employees were not too interested. Twelve per cent weren’t sure.

"Professionals want to work for companies that are transparent about their operations and performance, and offer insight into areas of opportunity for the business and for individual career growth," said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources.

"Discussing financial performance with employees gives them a better understanding of how their work contributes to business goals and helps them stay motivated and productive."

Kind suggested employers talk to staff about the direction in which the company is moving and invite them into the decision-making process, where appropriate.

“Demonstrating that their ideas are valued, and play a vital role in helping the organization meet its goals, encourages loyalty and improves morale,” he said.

King also offered the following tips for anyone considering sharing financial information with employees:
  • Determine what to share. Get a sense of what people want to know and what management is comfortable disclosing. There's no universal template, but peers outside the company and experienced consultants can shed light on best practices at other firms.
  • Come up with – and stick to – a schedule. Let staff members know when they can expect to receive updates. Avoid skipping these discussions if the news is bad, which could alienate workers and lead them to draw their own conclusions.
  • Connect the dots. Show employees how their work affects the bottom line. This will enable them to better align their projects and ideas to the company's objectives.
  • Remember it's not just what you say but how you say it. Don't simply provide numbers; explain what they mean. Make managers available to answer questions and address concerns their teams may have.