Employers need to know that employees want to have knowledge about the company's fortunes, even when the news is bad.
There is an old saying that no news is good news.
However, when it comes to keeping up to date with how business is going, employees believe bad news is preferable to no news.
Transparency is the word of the day in both the political and the corporate realm, though transparency is a difficult goal to achieve. But a new study by a London-based software company indicates that employees would prefer to hear the bad news rather than not hear anything at all.
When Geckoboard surveyed approximately 2,000 full-time employees in both the United States and the United Kingdom, they found that transparency, even when it causes managers to proffer bad news, is good for both productivity and morale. It might also serve to prevent employees from going to other firms.
Over 90 percent of employees said they would rather hear bad news than not hear anything at all about how the company they work for is doing. Approximately 75 percent of employees said they do not trust managers or supervisors who do not share information about the businesses.
Here is some frightening news for managers and supervisors: More than half of employees who complain about not hearing company details have done their own research to find out how the company is doing. Also, 25 percent reported quitting a job or knowing someone who has quit a job because the company kept details of the firm’s progress under wraps.
On the other side of the coin, approximately 60 percent of employees said they are more productive when they know what is going on with the company, and almost one half said more information “motivates me to perform better”.
The Geckoboard survey information matches information that came from a recent Harvard Business Review Analytics study in which a majority of executives from a range of industries said that more open communication is necessary to future success.
Dozens of experiments have been conducted over the years showing that humans are more drawn to bad news than good news. In 2014, researchers at McGill University showed participants an electronic newspaper story politics under the guise of watching their eye movements. They were then asked what kind of political news stories they liked to read. The participants more often chose stories about the negative side of politics – corruption, lies, gridlock – rather than reading about positive events related to politics.
Then, the researchers asked the participants if they preferred to read good news or bad news, and invariably they responded “good news”.
In a series of experiments performed by researchers at the University of California Riverside, it was found that overwhelmingly the person delivering news would rather deliver good news first, then the bad news. But the recipients of two kinds of news most often preferred to hear the bad news first.
The Riverside researchers noted that office management instructions often suggest delivering bad news in a “sandwich”, meaning surrounding bad news with good news on either side in a good-bad-good approach. “Our findings suggest that the primary beneficiary of the bad news sandwich is the news-givers, not news-recipients,’’ the researchers wrote. “Although recipients may be pleased to end on a high note, they are unlikely to enjoy anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop during the initial good news.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.