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How HR can build trust with transparency

How HR can build trust with transparency

By Jennifer Tan 

Moderator, HR Shouts and Whispers FB Community 

In these uncertain times, organizations are continuously challenged to be agile and re-strategize to keep the business afloat while ensuring employee engagement and welfare. Transparency is a key trait of leaders that many have applauded this season and have built trust within organizations. For HR, it's often a balancing act between transparency and privacy. How far can information be shared? How much should you share to inspire trust and avoid unnecessary panic?  

Short of a discussion on data privacy, I find that asking two questions helps determine that boundary.  

1. What is my purpose in sharing this information?  

During these times especially, we usually share information to empower employees and strengthen trust in the process. This allows for a resilient two-way relationship between employees and companies. 

2. Will sharing this information disrespect someone or expose them to harm? 

We share and the way we share it must always respect people and do not cause them harm. Communication is a critical element in thriving organizations but it is always an exchange that reinforces the value of respect within and amongst employees.  

Transparency and trust are two-way streets. As much as companies are challenged to discern which and how much to share, employees also need to share information with their employers. Employees declare health information, including any symptoms they might be experiencing. Some employees have taken on a little side business to earn extra given reduced incomes these times. An interesting question is raised if companies are still responsible for employees after office hours, particularly if they have started their side business and catch the virus then and out of the office.  

There's no one-size-fits-all approach for this matter. After all, companies have different levels of resources, circumstances, and philosophies. With resources running low and companies pushed to prioritize sustainability, help is limited even with the best spirit of charity. When the employer-employee relationship operates in an environment of transparency and trust, employees are empowered to take care of their health not just for themselves but for a larger unit as well – their organization and even their community. Staying healthy allows an employee to keep with their side business, render productive service for the company, and ensure those collective efforts to keep everyone safe is not wasted.  

Pyke Conde, Operations practitioner, shares this, "If they know better, then they'll know how to do business without any physical contact with their customers. If they catch the virus due to their negligence after office hours, employers and the government's efforts are then put to waste. Staying healthy depends solely on one's lifestyle, diet, behavior, etc. which can't be pinned on someone else unless you are qualified as one who legitimately needs guidance." 

In an environment of trust, employees are not only inspired to be transparent. Employees are moreover empowered to be responsible and accountable. They learn to take charge of themselves and share in the collective obligation to reinforce trust with daily choices. This is not for employers to skirt their moral responsibility of ensuring employee welfare but to share in the mission to build a virtuous cycle of trust through transparency for an inspired and accountable workforce. 

About the author:

Jennifer Tan is a Human Resource practitioner who has recently dived into the fast-paced world of e-commerce from the public sector. She’s also a moderator of HR Shouts and Whispers. A lifelong learner, Jennifer is passionate about building others up and empowering by helping others discover the potential that is within them.

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