As recently as four years ago, most privately held companies didn't readily share financial information with internal staff, but research from Robert Half Management Resources shows the tide has turned.

Fifty-six percent of CFOs interviewed said their organization provides at least some employees with regular updates on financial performance, up 32 percentage points from a 2012 survey.

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CFOs also were asked, "How interested do you think employees are in hearing about your company's financial performance?" Their responses:

  • Very interested—18%
  • Somewhat interested—51%
  • Not too interested—21%
  • Not at all interested—9%
  • Don't know—1%

"Professionals want to work for organizations that are open with staff about the health of the business," says Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.

"Though not a requirement for private companies, providing insights on financial performance instills in employees a sense of ownership, which often leads to improved employee engagement and productivity."

Here are tips for sharing insights on financial performance with staff:

  • Determine what to share. Get a sense of what people want to know and what management is comfortable disclosing. There's no universal template, but peers outside the company and experienced consultants can shed light on best practices at other firms.
  • Come up with—and stick to—a schedule. Let staff members know when they can expect to receive updates. Avoid skipping these discussions if the news is bad, which could alienate workers and lead them to draw their own conclusions.
  • Connect the dots. Show employees how their work affects the bottom line. This will enable them to better align their projects and ideas to the company's objectives.
  • Remember it's not just what you say but how you say it. Don't simply provide numbers; explain what they mean. Make managers available to answer questions and address concerns their teams may have.

    The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on telephone interviews with more than 2,100 private-company CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.