Advantages of Open-Door Policies (Plus How To Implement One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 7, 2021 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated March 7, 2021

Published December 12, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Open-door policies help foster communication between managers and employees. They deepen two-way conversations and allow staff to speak their minds on topical issues affecting their work and job satisfaction.

You can implement an open-door policy in your workplace to encourage team members to approach you with any issues, concerns or comments. In this article, we explore what an open-door policy is and the advantages of having one in the workplace. We then detail the steps you can take to create an open-door policy.

What is an open-door policy?

An open-door policy is an approach that allows employees to communicate job and personal issues with senior executives when they are uncomfortable discussing those issues with their immediate superiors. Often, the immediate supervisor may be part of the problem, making it difficult for the concerned employee to open up to them.

Businesses use open-door policies to encourage freedom of expression, respect and cooperation between management and employees. Having one in place can help solve problems between superiors and subordinates and curb bad behavior.

Open-door policies can also be effective tools for gathering feedback and gauging the staff’s perspectives regarding job satisfaction and workplace perception. These discussions can provide valuable insights into what the employees think of the business and how to improve work conditions and the company’s bottom line.

Related: How To Be a Good Manager

The benefits of open-door policies

Open-door policies are especially beneficial if you are a new manager. They help you start a cordial relationship with your subordinates and other managers. Open-door policies:

Provide accessibility

Many organizations encourage subordinates to interact freely with their superiors, and most companies maintain a first-name basis for interactions across all levels of their business.

With an effective open-door policy, you can break down barriers between managers and subordinates. This leads to more effective communication, actionable feedback and improved results. Being able to approach senior management when you face challenges at work is indispensable for the company’s success.

Promote healthy discussions

Companies with open-door policies enjoy a cordial environment that fosters healthy discussions between management and employees. Instead of a rigid and formal atmosphere, managers who use open-door policies create an informal environment in which individuals can speak freely without the fear of official reproach.

Boost morale

An open-door policy motivates team members to commit themselves fully to the common good and shared goals. Compensation and perks are not the only things that boost employee morale. An environment that allows workers to voice their opinions without fear can be enabling, liberating and motivating.

Improve working relationships

Open-door policies encourage cohesion between employees and managers. When employees can speak with managers about important matters, they realize managers want to help them do their jobs better and feel genuine concern for their well-being. When subordinates see that managers are interested in their work, they become motivated to dedicate themselves to achieving targets.

Related: Conflict Resolution Skills: Definition and Examples

Steps for creating an open-door policy

Setting up an effective open-door policy doesn’t take much effort. Keep these three tips in mind as you establish a plan for your team:

1. Set expectations

Talk to employees who might take part in the strategy, and gain their trust and support for the process. Consider asking what they want out of an open-door policy, such as whether they would prefer a set time or the ability to make an appointment. These conversations can help you understand what your team needs and wants from the policy.

One way to boost employee confidence in open-door policies is to create a chain of command that identifies who they can speak to whenever they have a certain problem or need to share insights. That somebody is available to speak with them at any time increases the credibility of the policy among employees and increases its chance of success.

2. Establish boundaries

An open-door policy should help managers stay up to date about their team’s work. However, you should set clear boundaries before implementing one to ensure employees know the right way to use your policy.

Be clear about the discussions employees can have with their contacts. Consider whether certain conversations should be prohibited, such as gossip or casual chat to ensure time is used well. You may need to set times and venues for the meetings. One-on-one, in-person meetings are an effective way to derive maximum value from this process.

3. Have a conflict-management plan

Prepare for potential conflicts that you may have to handle during the open-door hours. Consider training managers to listen attentively to both sides of an argument and mediate to find a solution. Help employees understand the proper approach to mentioning conflicts and the most effective ways they can discuss their issues and resolve them within the set parameters. You also might develop a protocol for possible escalation scenarios that involves bringing in higher-level managers or human resources officers to ensure conflicts are resolved quickly and satisfactorily.

Avoid these negative outcomes and keep the lines of communication flowing. Empower your employees by offering such a program and listen to them attentively. And keep the door open.

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