Sharing the numbers

Is it a good idea to open up the books for your employee’s perusal?

Once upon a time, the people who worked for you were kept well away from the numbers. The accounts behind the very business they were getting up each morning to create in  were hush hush.  This might not have been great for productivity but it kept the board happy to think that everyone knew their places. Times have swiftly changed and there’s a new playground in the school of thought that suggests that knowing the numbers can be motivating and engaging. Knowledge is power! So should we open up the books to increase transparency or would you rather just shut them. It’s swings and roundabouts of course.

A roundabout that is a swing!
A roundabout that’s a swing!

You might be one of those business owners who think that allowing staff to know the company’s revenue, profit, budget and projected sales can increase engagement and achieve dizzier heights with forecasts met and the books better. However you might also think that too much information can overwhelm staff, or could even pose a risk for your business, given the sensitive nature of the secret numbers hidden in the vault on your laptop.

Companies who choose financial transparency over secrecy have reported that the main benefit to their business has been a positive upswing in morale naming improved loyalty, trust, and dedication to their work as the standout differences. They have also suggested that the smiles are bigger and the water cooler conversations are more in keeping with what’s actually happening in the business that’s new and fresh.

Hands in the clay

When workers are able to make the link between the company numbers and their own salary numbers, their job becomes more secure in their minds and their perspective shifts; they become stakeholders in your company with their hands in the clay of creation. They understand what all this is for and begin to mould the business into the future with you.

Informed and prepared employees can be more motivated to achieve greater results and keener to work together as a team to achieve targets driven by the numbers. As a people manager you can guide the focus to increase sales, bring about higher conversion rates, and implement strategies to improve profit margins too. Work can become more meaningful for everyone, including you, as all team members are aware that their contributions matter and that every effort can have a quantifiable impact on the company’s success. Look! It’s all there in the numbers in the books in the clouds. As everyone sees the numbers improving month on month, the importance of each individual’s input is reinforced, as is that of the team often resulting in high fives all round.

Creative collaboration and cooperation goes up!

As well as inspiring employees to work more efficiently towards a common gain, colleagues tend to work together more effectively when open discussions about the books are part of the culture of the workplace. It’s a brave new world out there and with people becoming braver and the technology ever newer, businesses that make a point of being on the leading edge can galvanise a team together when the results have proven that this stuff works.


Improved financial know-how

Some business owners believe there’s little advantage to sharing financial reports with their employees because (say this in a whiny voice) ‘the numbers are complex and difficult to understand and I’m the only person in this building who can read the graphs and no one loves me anyway’. But this ‘everyone in their place’ attitude halts growth and creativity and diminishes trust. People love to feel valued. Having a virtual financial hug from your company in the form of a trusting open book policy can pay dividends in loyalty. Illuminating the numbers can also empower employees with a basic training in business boot camp. Advanced number skills like that can come in very handy when employees are promoted to management positions. It goes round and round, they support you supporting them supporting you on a roundabout of a common aim- happy books and beyond.

Final thoughts


If life is just a playground in a learning space (and it is) and the roundabout of numbers is gaining momentum, maybe slow it down a little and pull your employees on with both hands. Create a positive relationship where trust and transparency thrive and watch the numbers gather speed.

When your employees can see on paper (and by that we also mean on every device) that there’s good reason to feel optimistic about the future, you’ll have less reasons to worry about morale. And who hasn’t ever laughed uproariously out loud when they are spinning on a roundabout of creativity with good people.




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