How Transparent Should You Be with Employees During Times of Uncertainty?

John Boitnott
4 min readSep 7, 2023

Every business will run into uncertainty at some point. Unsettled times, almost by definition, are challenging to navigate, and pose an additional challenge for employee managers and other leaders: how transparent should they be with staff members?

It’s important to recognize at the outset that there are reasons to be frank and open with team members and reasons not to be, but I’ve found that most of the time, honesty is the best policy, and there are quite a few associated benefits.

Reasons to be transparent with employees

It rallies everyone behind a shared mission: When a team has a common goal, its members pull together to accomplish it. But if they have no idea a business is facing uncertainty, you rob them of an opportunity to become invested.

For example, let’s say you have to make $20,000 in the next month to make payroll. If you don’t inform employees about the issue, they are stripped of the opportunity to go even further above and beyond — to work additionally hard to bridge the (hopefully temporary) gap.

It eliminates overthinking and fear: Even if you don’t directly tell employees about the uncertainty facing your company, they’ll likely know something is up in any case. Maybe…