In my role as head of consulting at Waggl, I have worked with diverse clients, and I have seen the clear evidence of the relationship between transparency, inclusion, and profit.

Of course, many senior executives prefer to focus almost solely on increased productivity in order to boost profit and shareholder returns. This is understandable and often appropriate, but the fact is that transparency and inclusion — which improve employee engagement and encourage additional employee effort — are the primary contributors to the much sought-after growth and profitability.

See, in order for a company to achieve the trifecta of productivity, profitability, and shareholder returns, its employees must go above and beyond their job descriptions. This requires discretionary effort on the part of the employees — which can be unlocked by transparency and inclusion.

Discretionary Effort and Inclusion

Unlocking an employee’s desire to produce more than what is asked of them is the Holy Grail of business. But how, exactly, do we get employees to give that discretionary effort?

We have seen through our work at Waggl that employees are more likely to give more discretionary effort when they feel informed, consulted, and included in the decision-making process. When companies make decisions openly and with high degrees of transparency, they create environments in which employees are more likely to give the extra effort necessary to increase profits.

Some questions to ask when considering how decisions are made in your business:

  1. How often are important decisions made based on ideas solicited from all layers of the organization?
  2. Are these decisions genuinely collaborative? Are they made after getting the best and most valid inputs from the organization?
  3. How can we, as a business, scale an inclusive decision-making process?

It is fair to say that many leaders want to include employee insights in their decision-making but struggle with the sheer volume of feedback. For example, how do you use 9,000 text comments to support an urgent business decision? It is not at all easy, but this does not change the fact that we need a way to move forward with decision-making that includes employees in a transparent way. There are technological solutions available to assist leaders in this effort.

Accessing Collective Intelligence

One of the benefits of communicating with transparency and inclusion is being able to access collective intelligence. With collective intelligence, what one of us knows, we all know. Effective knowledge transfer depends on a communication strategy that aligns with the real human frequency of conversation.

Organizations that make a commitment to utilizing employee insight and collective intelligence naturally create environments for continuous contribution. With both the right business structures and technological tools in place, leaders can send a clear message that the organization’s success is dependent upon hearing from and listening to employees. Thus, they engage employees respectfully, offering assurances of confidentiality and transparently acknowledging the value of individual contributions.

When a person feels respected and valued for their individual contribution, our experience shows that leadership can realistically expect to see that individual expend more discretionary effort in the workplace.

In summary, we know that discretionary effort relies on the individual, but it can be encouraged by creating a culture of transparency, inclusion, and collective intelligence. When we hire individuals with the ability to go above and beyond and include them in critical business decisions, we unlock the secret to long-term growth and profitability across the organization.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Waggl blog.

Dr. Anton Franckeiss is head of consulting at Waggl, the most human way for organizations to crowdsource feedback.

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