Carbon Staff Books

Should your staff know your books?

There are many schools of thought on how open you should be with staff around the performance and financial position of your company. Many small business owners find themselves stumped; How much information is useful and motivating vs. stress-inducing overload? Where does transparency end and overshare begin?

On one hand, staff need to know the business is viable and solvent to assure them of job security. It’s an important factor for their mental wellbeing, enabling them to plan their personal finances, mortgage payments, school fees, etc

On the other hand, managing staff perceptions and the resulting expectations is a tricky business. If staff see the business is performing well it might lead them to believe they are entitled to increased remuneration which ultimately impacts business profitability. If staff see the business is underperforming they might believe they need to start looking at other careers opportunities.

We understand the idea of financial transparency gives some Business Owners butterflies, and while we’re not proposing the wholesale distribution of sensitive financial information, there is some data you can share with staff.

What data you ask? The big picture.

Here at Carbon Group we have quarterly #carbonite networking events during which each division Partner tells staff about their results for the quarter; how it compares with last quarter; and what their commitment is for future growth. Why is this beneficial? It keeps staff on the same page, and encourages within them a sense of ownership and purpose.

As you move into the more sensitive financials of the business, the key is to be consistent and establish protocols early for who the information is communicated to.

We believe a good strategy for senior managers is to share only those financials relevant to their area of responsibility. All communication at this level should have a focus on areas they can control (gross profit, income, divisional cost of sales, divisional wages ect). A good incentive model for these managers is to tie performance related bonuses to their divisional gross profit numbers. This creates a win/win situation for both the company and the manager in question.

One crucial element, no matter how much you choose to share, is consistency in communication; consistency in frequency, in transparency and in detail. While senior managers might work better and smarter when they see the numbers, unless you are an ASX listed company, it isn’t necessary to share them with every member of staff. Not only can it be a distraction, it can be disadvantageous if they were to fall into the wrong hands.

Feeling overwhelmed? Carbon Bookkeeping manages the books for hundreds of businesses and can help you take control of your business finances. Give us a call 08 6444 6617.

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