I once interviewed a candidate who in the past 8 years switched 5 employers. But that’s not the alarming part. What was is that he was laid-off from 3 of these. When probed, he told me that those 3 companies shut down and hence he was left unemployed. I couldn’t resist joking with him on whether he intends to shut down the client’s operations as well! We had a good laugh over that. At first I felt sympathetic for him, but later I asked myself: was he really unlucky or simply not making good career choices?

I’ve interviewed, coached, and interacted with several people from various industries and career levels and more often than not I find people failing to look beyond their jobs. They’re so fixated with their tasks and departments that they develop tunnel-vision when it comes to things happening around them. And this is when they suddenly learn that the company they represent isn’t doing as well as they thought it was.

I firmly believe that one key to professional success is to know what your company is all about. Specifically how it’s performing and what are the numbers that define its performance. And I’m not talking about the numbers of your personal achievements; I’m talking about the numbers that Finance and Accounts prepare for stakeholders. I really believe that each and every employee needs to know these so that they understand where the company is headed.

From an employer’s point of view, sharing these numbers helps develop employee loyalty and confidence. It’ll motivate individuals to strive for more and nurture a sense of ownership by way of realization of what their efforts are contributing towards.

So what are these numbers, or key financial indicators, employees should know of? Here are a few important ones.

Net Profit Margin

Understanding whether or not your company is profitable is just one aspect. Making sure it remains profitable is key. Keep an eye on the trend of the profit margin as you wouldn’t want your company’s expenses to grow faster than its revenues (i.e. shrinking margins). What that means is that revenues and business opportunities aren’t growing as fast as the company’s expansions or expenses. Pretty soon it could translate to cost controls and reductions. For you that could mean reduced payouts in terms of bonuses and increments and quite possibly budgetary constraints in terms of expenses which are not core to operations. It could possibly even impact hiring.

Operating Cash Flow

A company’s strong operating cash flow indicates it isn’t cash strapped and can probably use that excess cash for further investments and development. For you the opportunity it provides is personal development in the form of training. Along with this, HR and employees can feel confident that developmental and engagement programs will often be endorsed when cash flows aren’t a challenge.

Employee Turnover

A very important indicator of the environment you work in is the number of colleagues leaving and being replaced. A high turnover indicates your colleagues are, quite possibly, losing confidence or getting more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. This could raise alarm bells for you as you evaluate some of the factors that they are leaving for against your own priorities. Also of importance is to see what measures your management and HR takes to address this high employee turnover. Will you also join them and leave or do you see an opportunity by staying?

Customer Satisfaction

Not only is it important to know if employees are content, but it’s equally significant to know how your company is perceived by its customers. Are they pleased with the brand? Are they satisfied with the services or products they purchase? Are they happy with the people representing your company (your colleagues). This indicator will help you develop brand loyalty for your employer and make you proud of your corporate citizenship. After all, a sense of pride in your organization always helps to motivate you.

These numbers alone hold no meaning. They need context and something to compare with. Benchmarked against the industry or competitors they can tell you where your company stands and how well it’s doing.

Many would say that sharing these numbers with employees isn’t wise as it’s just too much information for them to process and it’s just too much transparency. Let me ask you this, if your employees have entrusted you with their careers, income and their families’ livelihood, shouldn’t they know who they are placing their trust with? Trust between employees and employers is pivotal and that can be achieved if both parties are willing to share information. When you know your company’s numbers you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your career with them.