The importance of honesty at work

If honesty is the best policy, how does this philosophy translate to employees in the workplace.

Openness and honesty at work starts with hiring and retaining the right people. But how can leaders ensure their hiring practices encourage honesty at work in today’s hybrid era?
Read on for tips on putting honesty at the heart of your hiring strategy, how to attract and retain the right people, and discovering the keys to building a strong, high-trust workplace culture.

The importance of honesty at work

For the modern enterprise, honesty is a broader concept than the simple expectation that everyone should tell the truth. Honesty is a cultural paradigm that includes trust, integrity, ethics, and more.

During times of uncertainty and crisis, encouraging honesty at work all starts with getting the right people in your company. How do you tell when job candidates are being honest and authentic?

That’s a challenge even in normal circumstances, but when you add in the complicated nature of hiring while interviewing remotely, it can seem nearly impossible.

Honesty at work is about trust, not rules

Some organizations try to grind honesty into the company culture through granular policies that dictate — in letter-of-the-law fashion — what employees can or can’t do. While having clearly defined policies helps set clear expectations, it can sometimes inadvertently send the wrong message. Every time you police your employees, you’re effectively saying to people, “We don’t trust you.”

When distrust is present, you may be encouraging employees to do only what is absolutely necessary, prompting further micromanagement that only reinforces a lack of trust and inhibits going above and beyond expectations. Plus, today’s high rate of employee turnover is also putting a significant amount of pressure on employers to restore a sense of trust that flows fairly between them and their workforce.

To establish honesty at work, lead by example to demonstrate the value your business places on acting with integrity. It might sound simple, but it’s an approach that really covers the spirit of trust for each individual and throughout the workplace as a whole. That’s the key to building a system that emphasizes honesty at work.

Transparency starts from the top

The expectation of honesty at work means you have to be clear and open with everyone. When you are, it demonstrates trust and creates an environment of transparency — another vital element in all great organizations.

Openness and honesty at work make for an environment where people feel trusted, especially by company leadership. When you have an environment where information is communicated with clarity, it opens the door for greater connection and productivity.

However, when there’s a lack of trust between leadership and employees, you risk damaging any efforts to attract and retain talented workers. Placing trust as the foundation of the business feeds entrepreneurship and having free rein to work gives your employees the confidence they need to do their jobs and explore their creative ideas without fear of failure, retaliation, or retribution.

Creating that type of work environment ultimately comes down to a decision by management to hire smartly, trust employees to do their jobs without having to look over their shoulders, and then foster a culture of honesty in the workplace by articulating expectations and empowering your teams with the technology they need to be successful.

Focusing on creating an environment that meets employees’ needs and provides them with easily accessible, user-friendly tools and information will increase the feelings of trust and alleviate some of the biggest frustrations employees have while at the office.

Hiring for honesty at work

It’s a tough and competitive job market right now. Understandably, some applicants might be more concerned with landing the job than with being transparent about what they’re looking for and how well they fit the role. However, misleading or withholding information hurts everyone involved in the hiring process. Hiring the wrong person for the job is a costly mistake, yet it’s one that up to 95% of companies admit to making.

Here are a few ways to make sure you recruit the right candidates.

Encourage honesty at work from the start

Let’s be honest: First impressions make a big impact.

Most Human Resources teams have switched to conducting interviews over the phone or via video conferencing tools. To start off on the right foot, a visitor management system can help set the tone for your company culture by providing a seamless welcome experience for candidates interviewing in person.

In hiring interviews, focus on determining if candidates are passionate about what they do and if they are being direct about their goals, values, and expectations. For instance, if your company intends on bringing everyone back to the office full-time, it’s critical to communicate that to each candidate and check that their expectations are aligned to what’s planned. If your company is switching to a hot desking or other flexible seating arrangement, communicate that with your candidates so they understand what to expect.

Asking the right questions, such as open-ended “what if” scenarios, will help you determine whether or not the candidate is being forthright about their experience and can show whether they will be a good fit for your organization. Encourage job candidates to explain how they have acted or how they would behave in certain situations that are likely to occur within your organization, such as prioritizing during tight deadlines.

Exhibit the importance of honesty

Honesty at work goes both ways. Make sure to be authentic and candid when you conduct the interviews, as well. Have a clear discussion about the job requirements and be open about what your company is looking for. Know what employees and candidates need to feel safe in the workplace, and discuss what steps your organization is taking to address the pandemic.

Mutual communication based on authenticity and honesty at work fosters feedback and openness, which lets candidates get a sense of your company culture and values.

Don’t just tell employees and candidates that honesty at work is a priority. Show them. Top candidates want to know if they’ll be happy working at your company. To attract and retain talent, use the interview as an opportunity to articulate company values, goals, and accomplishments. A visitor management solution is one way to demonstrate your company’s commitment to transparency, by communicating a commitment to health, wellbeing, and safety.

Ultimately, you have to empower your people to make informed decisions — you design for the flexibility of your workforce and then ensure they have the tools and real-time access to the information they need to make the most out of the workplace.

The truth about the future of your workplace

To truly thrive in the flexible workplace, your company has several decisions to make. Identifying and hiring the right employees is just the start of encouraging honesty at work. Once you have the talent in place, there’s more work to do to keep encouraging honesty and building trust. From the second people walk into your front office to the very end of their interview, they’ll be evaluating your company and exploring whether your values align with theirs.

And it’s important for leaders to emphasize the value of honesty at work in conversations with current employees, too. Making a point to be honest helps create an environment that encourages people to push the bar higher in terms of what they can accomplish. Worried about retaining your top talent? Focus on your workplace experience strategy. Keeping the workplace experience aligned with the new needs of your workforce helps lay the groundwork for a strong company culture where communication flows openly and the office is used in a more meaningful, beneficial way.

If you’re looking for the best way forward, see what you can do to counteract the dangers of employee burnout to create more exceptional experiences for your current and future employees.

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.