Accountability in the Workplace and Why It Is Important

By BullEyes 8 Min Read

Organizations looking to establish a workplace culture that is both healthy and supportive must make accountability a priority. When this culture is in place, employees will strive harder to be accountable while also holding their peers accountable. Companies find the workplace is happier and more productive when it fosters this culture. How can a company cultivate a culture of accountability? 

Understanding Accountability in the Workplace

When all employees within an organization take responsibility for what they say and do, they encourage accountability in the workplace. Employers should expect this at all levels. Practicing accountability doesn’t have to be difficult. A person must know their responsibilities and fulfill their role within the organization. They must complete specific tasks or requirements, be present at work, comply with quality standards, and collaborate and communicate with peers and management.

Leaders can promote this culture by speaking with employees and sharing the goals and performance expectations of the organization. While sharing the company’s values and missions, leaders must adhere to them and expect employees to do the same. Fair standards across the board encourage employees to be accountable. When they see others aren’t doing the same, they may wonder why they should put the effort in. People may ask, “why is accountability important?” 

The Importance of Accountability

Individuals who feel responsible for their actions are more inclined to do their tasks well and efficiently. They are more committed to the job and employee happiness increases. One person won’t feel as if they are doing the work of several others while they sit back and do nothing. People held accountable in the workplace feel they have more control and autonomy. They want to have a positive impact on the organization. 

Workplace accountability boosts morale and improves communication. Employees are more engaged and execute projects more effectively. They trust their co-workers and bosses more which leads to greater employee satisfaction. Employee turnover then decreases. 

This increased trust and accountability fosters work relationships that are both healthy and productive. Co-workers treat each other with respect and kindness because they understand the impact of each person’s role within the organization. If they don’t do their work, they affect others negatively. They will work hard to ensure this doesn’t happen. 

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Increasing Accountability in the Workplace

Employers may take many steps to increase accountability in the workplace. Always make expectations clear. When employees understand the goals, they will work to meet them. If they aren’t aware of the goals, they may flounder and feel as if their time is being wasted. This process begins when onboarding an employee. Setting expectations from day one ensures the employee knows what they must do. 

In addition, employers need to explain the rewards of meeting expectations and the consequences of failing to do so. People need to see cause and effect to grasp fully what must be done. Every person must be treated as an equal within the organization, thus rewards and consequences need to be consistent at every level up to senior executives. 

Organizations need to provide feedback to accountable employees and those who aren’t meeting expectations. Positive feedback allows employees to take ownership of their actions; negative feedback shows them where there is room to grow. In either situation, the employee can look at the choices they have made and make informed decisions regarding their next steps. 

Employee reviews are one way of providing this feedback. Continuous feedback cycles built into project plans are also useful. Anonymous feedback in the workplace should be encouraged, as well. Employees feel as if they are being heard when they are asked for their input. 

Work-Tracking Tools

Employees, particularly those involved in offshore staffing, appreciate having access to work-tracking tools. These tools enable them to easily see what they have accomplished and what tasks remain. Some employees prefer private work-tracking tools and some benefit from using a shared tool so everyone can see where other workers are at with their tasks. 

These tools might include work completion checklists or attendance trackers. Work completion reports are another tracking tool many people find useful. Each person differs in their needs, so employers might want to offer several options and allow each employee to choose what works for them. 

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SMART Goals

Goals in the workplace increase accountability, particularly when workers encourage one another to complete these goals. Many organizations use SMART goals. What are these, and how are they helpful? 

  • S-specific goals with clear outcomes
  • M-measurable outcomes rather than subjective goals
  • A-achievable goals that allow employees to succeed
  • R-relevant goals that add value to the organization or project
  • T-time-bound goals allow employees to know the time constraints they must work within

Responsibilities and Purpose

Employers must help workers understand their roles within the organization. When a person can link their task to the greater mission, they feel responsible for completing that task. They recognize the purpose of what they are doing, even if the task seems menial compared to the big picture. When employees are recognized for doing their part, regardless of how big or small this part is, others are encouraged to work harder at small tasks and large ones. 

Allow for Growth

Workers must acknowledge when they make mistakes so they can learn from them. A culture of support will encourage them to accept responsibility for these errors. Encourage them to try new ideas, knowing these ideas might fail. They learn best when they are supported through mistakes and accomplishments. 

Mutual Respect

Workers must respect each other to have an accountable workplace. They must trust others to do their jobs so they can complete their own. Ownership over one’s work leads to more personal responsibility. One way to encourage this respect is to push punctuality. Doing so shows respect for the other person’s time, which they will appreciate. 

It starts at the top. If company leaders and executives aren’t held accountable, workers won’t feel as if they need to be responsible for their actions. People look up to those who are in leadership, as they want to learn from them so they too can move up the corporate ladder. Accountable leaders encourage a culture of accountability, productivity, honesty, and respect. It starts at the top. 

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