In a competitive industry like construction, getting a leg up over other firms isn’t just about providing quality services or great prices. While these factors are essential, one often overlooked component in the industry is the importance of trust.
Having a high level of trust gives you a competitive advantage in multiple areas, including recruitment, employee and customer retention, project delivery, and more.
Research by FMI and Autodesk found that organizations with high levels of trust are not only more efficient, but they also have happier employees and see more repeat business.
Consider the following:
1. Better employee retention. The majority (56%) of firms with the highest trust had better turnover rates compared to the firms where trust is just above average.
At the end of the day, organizations that retain their employees end up saving money. Replacing an employee costs about a third of their annual salary, so keeping your team on board for as long as possible makes financial sense.
In fact, companies with the highest levels of trust save as much as $750,000 per year by not replacing their employees.
2. More repeat business. Being a trustworthy organization doesn’t save you money; it also helps you earn more. Our research found that the majority of high trust firms (57%) say that four out of five of their projects are from existing customers. That translates to wider margins and a healthier bottom line; according to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in client retention can lead to up to 95% higher profits.
All this to say that boosting trust levels in your organization should be a priority. “Trust” isn’t just a word that you add to a slide deck or drop into a motivational speech. It’s something that you should measure and improve.
Start by taking Autodesk’s Trust Assessment, an online tool that helps you determine how your trust levels measure up compared to other firms. This will enable you to benchmark trust in your organization, so you can then find ways to increase it.
Trust in the Age of COVID-19
Trust is essential in day-to-day operations, but it becomes absolutely critical during times of crisis.
Case in point: COVID-19.
From health and financial concerns to lockdown measures taking their emotional toll, the pandemic has brought about fear and anxiety in people globally. During this crisis, the organizations that have built (or are building) trust with their staff, customers, and other stakeholders will be in a much better position to come out strong when the pandemic is over.
This is particularly important in the construction industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic. A survey by the Association of General Contractors (AGC) found that the industry lost 975,000 jobs in April due to lower demand for construction projects. Meanwhile, firms that are still running projects are grappling with health and safety concerns, plus uncertainty from workers, clients, and partners.
Needless to say, trust is vital to successfully navigating these uncertain times. The level of confidence that your staff, customers, and partners have in your organization will make or break their decision to work and do business with you.
Deloitte points out that successful organizations instill trust in their stakeholders across four dimensions: physical, emotional, financial, and digital. You need to make your stakeholders feel safe about going to your locations and entrusting you with their information.
“Indeed, being intentional about trust during a time of crisis can set apart a business leader who competently steers his or her company through these uncertain times. In other words, a trusted leader is most often a resilient leader.” – Deloitte
Simply put, when your stakeholders trust you, they’ll be more inclined to work with and for your organization.
On the employee side, high-trust organizations cultivate a positive work culture that transcends the office and the jobsite. This is a significant factor, considering the rise of working from home. In a recent webinar, 78% of attendees said that trust had a significant impact on remote work.
Both in the workplace and in the field, trust comes into play when parties don’t feel that they have to constantly monitor or control each other. Employees and managers alike are confident in each other, and this leads to better output and relationships.
As for your customers and partners, these parties are more likely to give you their business (and continue doing so) if they trust that your organization can deliver on their needs while keeping them safe during turbulent periods.
How construction companies can build trust
Now that we’ve covered why trust is valuable, let’s look at the ways in which you can build more of it in your construction business.
Transparency is the cornerstone of trust. Promote open and honest communication by sharing project details with the necessary stakeholders (i.e., owners, architects, engineers, contractors, etc.).
Share the ups and downs of the project. Are you running into unforeseen circumstances? Expect a delay in a shipment? Be upfront and don’t sugarcoat or exaggerate details. See to it that everyone is on the same page. Doing so ensures that there are no surprises, and this ultimately leads to more trust between everyone involved.
Another key component of transparency? Proper documentation. Make sure important information (policies, query responses, project details, etc.) are easily accessible. You can accomplish this by housing your data in a shared platform that’s searchable and accessible by all relevant stakeholders.
Implement regular and predictable practices
Speaking of avoiding surprises, you can minimize uncertainty by establishing regular and predictable practices in your organization. Implement reliable routines and procedures and make sure people follow them.
If you provide status updates, for example, try to do it at the same time every day or every week, depending on your established cadence.
You should also be cognizant of the fact that things can change quickly. Conditions on the jobsite can already be unpredictable under normal circumstances, and COVID-19 can present even more unforeseeable changes. Keep this in mind when figuring out the cadence of your communications.
Be open to input and feedback
You want people to be comfortable with sharing their opinions. You can do this by asking for people’s thoughts and feedback, and receiving their input in a thoughtful way. Rather than brushing off a comment or simply nodding your head, initiate a discussion and take action if necessary.
Avoid the blame game
Finally, if something doesn’t go according to plan (and any construction professional can attest that this happens often), strive to find solutions with the team, instead of finding someone to blame. Treat the situation as a learning experience rather than an opportunity to reprimand others.
This will lead to increased trust and people will be more likely to bring up issues sooner rather than later.
Do Workers and Clients Trust Your Construction Firm?
There are immense benefits to being a high-trust organization, so every construction firm should strive to manage and improve trust within their company.
Doing that starts with knowing where you stand. Check out Autodesk’s Trust Assessment, which lets you see how your trust measures up against your competitors.
Take the assessment today and start building your way to becoming a high-trust organization.