HR & EDUCATION | , Singapore
Mao Gen Foo

Practice radical transparency to keep employee stress at bay


Employee stress is a rising issue in Singapore.

According to a 2017 survey by specialised recruiter Robert Half, for instance, 76 percent of Singapore CFOs expect stress levels of their finance staff to balloon over the next three years. As more business leaders explore measures to alleviate employee stress in Singapore, the concept of radical transparency in particular has become a frequently-discussed topic when it comes to employee engagement.

Radical transparency – the idea of openness across tasks, data, processes – could actually be a major driver of organisational performance. Besides forming a more positive workplace environment that allows the brain and performance to flourish, embracing radical transparency can also boost trust and empower employees with the psychological freedom they have been craving.

Typically, in an organisation, managers are the ones with access to information and are better positioned to understand the team and company’s objectives. Due to the way information is being dispensed, they may choose to withhold critical information from others out of fear of losing their power or importance.

However, with more organisations pushing for flatter hierarchies to aid agility, ownership of tasks and to drive empowerment, fostering a culture of trust through transparency will not only ensure that people are in the loop, but could also positively impact performance. Having better understanding on every individual’s part in achieving organisational goals will instill higher trust among employees.

Sharing isn’t stressful. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Today, Singapore companies can no longer brush aside the growing concerns of employee stress, and must learn to tackle the underlying problem of mismanagement. A key component to business success, the principles of radical transparency will lead to higher employee engagement by improving these four areas:

Sense of belonging
Employees often lose sight on how their efforts impact the overall success of an organisation. By implementing radical transparency, employees can better identify the roles they play in the company’s overall mission and success. In turn, this instills a strong sense of workplace belonging – which is an important factor to keeping employees engaged as they feel more motivated to become an integral part of the company. 

Accessibility of information
Employees want to be kept in the loop. If an organisation fails to provide information, employees will go about searching for it in their own way. To keep employees engaged, organisations will need to be transparent.

For example, details and data regarding individual and company performance – including quarterly objectives, results, weekly snippets of employees’ past work and future goals – can be shared throughout the company. This can help foster trust between employees and their management. Employees will also be less distracted from finding information and instead, better focus on their tasks on hand. 

Increased collaboration
Having total transparency on goals and daily tasks provides employees with a clear overview on what their colleagues and other teams are working on. This will encourage higher collaboration and frequent exchange of ideas. Employees can in turn improve and reach higher levels of expertise together, contributing to the betterment of business and employee engagement. 

Advocating best employee practices
One key factor to keep engagement high is to recognise and reward the right employees for exceptional work. When organisations are transparent with work performances, they will need to make sure that they are rewarding only the competent.

Newer colleagues will be motivated to mirror the best practices of high-performing employees for recognition and rewards. This will result in a fast and wholesome progression within the workforce, encouraging employees to improve and stay engaged.

Implementing transparency within Singapore companies will help create a stress-free environment for your employees. Without having to fret over gossips, employees can have the psychological freedom and security to explore their interests and experiment with new, innovative ideas within the organisations.

Reduced feelings of uncertainty through sharing of information creates opportunities for colleagues to establish meaningful connections. This helps to break down the wall between your managers and employees, binding everyone together.

Organisations can use a sophisticated yet easy-to-use employee experience platform to collect employee feedback and act on potential issues as they arise. As organisations make attempts to improve their workplace, employee engagement will be greatly enhanced and ultimately, improving their bottom line.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Mao Gen Foo

Mao Gen Foo

With 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Mao Gen Foo has worked with many clients across industries in Asia to help solve business challenges leveraging IT solutions.

Mao Gen is currently the Head of Southeast Asia for Qualtrics, who is the leader in experience management software, allowing organisations to measure, prioritise, and optimise the experiences organisations provide across the four foundations of business: customer, product, employee and brand experiences. Mao Gen is based in Singapore, which is the Qualtrics head quarters for the Southeast Asia region. Mao Gen's responsibility is to establish and grow Qualtrics across this region.  

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