Can a Culture of 100% Honesty Work?



I thought this article was interesting, especially in light of the discussion of performance reviews yesterday. It looks at a few different companies and their initiatives toward creating completely honest and transparent workplaces.  A survey by 15Five indicates that 85% of employees are unsatisfied with the quality of communication at work. On top of this, 81% of full-time U.S. employees would rather join a company with open communication over companies that offer perks such as top health plans and gym memberships.

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-Joe Silverman (Owner) says “Our motto is total transparency, and I strive to promote this from the staff level through the customer.” Silverman enforces this by dismissing employees on the spot who start to cut corners, or withhold information from customers.

-This honesty is also important in terms of training: “Any time a repair comes in, we ask who hasn’t done this before. Whoever says no gets a crash-test training how to do it.”


-Chief People Officer Rochelle DiRie distinguishes between transparency and honesty by saying “Transparency is the surfacing of data and events; honesty is about your interpretation and desires.”

-Both transparency and honesty are strongly enforced at Quirky from senior management down, and are also included in the company’s core values. This mentality also includes never hiding bad news. “We ask our employees to always state their opinions, even if controversial.”


How important do you guys think honesty and transparency in the workplace are? Are there scenarios where withholding bad news is the better choice?

2 Responses to Can a Culture of 100% Honesty Work?

  • Honesty and transparency are very important in the workplace as long as the feedback is objective. Additionally, the feedback should be distributed in such a way as not to raise emotions so those providing the feedback should be careful about their tone during communications.
    The only time I can see withholding bad news as being the better choice is when the employer is trying to collect the amount of mistakes an employee makes to make a case for firing the employee. I believe employees should actively seek feedback from superiors so that there is less surprise when reviews are issued where companies are not transparent.

  • I think honesty and transparency are vital in the workplace. From my experiences at my internships and talking with business professionals, people want the whole truth. If a coworker feels that someone isn’t being honest about a situation or is omitting particular details in the workplace, the level of trust between those two will decrease to the point where one or both parties involved no longer have trust, making it hard to get work done. This also applies when dealing with clients, if a client believes you’re not being transparent and honesty you will most likely lose their business. I actually witnessed this first hand at one of my early internships. My one boss continually finished projects late for a variety of reasons and wouldn’t be completely transparent with the client. Once clients started catching on, many didn’t do business with him anymore. Overall, not being completely honesty and transparent with people in the workplace will only cause problems down the line.

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