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Trust us, a culture of trust is important

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The Belief-Driven Employee gives a new perspective for employers. Research has revealed that employees’ value systems have changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wages no longer are enough to compensate people for their work or guarantee employee loyalty. Employees now are driven by their beliefs and company valuation, similar to how someone prefers a brand of tools or cars and stays loyal to that brand.

Research shows that trust makes or breaks a company’s reputation and ability to retain employees. In this climate of the “great job migration,” consider looking at trust within your organization to retain workers and make your company more productive and reliable.

A Look at Research

The Edelman report shows that the belief-driven shift looks like a tripod where employers need to offer and balance the following: employee well-being, flexible hours and remote work. We know, we laugh about all the remote work talk too. For those of us in construction, the remote work trend needs to be replaced with something of equal importance to each individual. Office-based employees, however, might favor remote work hours, so talk to your employees about what makes them the most productive.

Charles Feltman, president and founder of Insight Coaching, is an executive coach who focuses on trust. He has spent most of his career studying and teaching trust because, as he worked with various organizations, trust kept reappearing as an indication of a company’s success or failure. He is the author of the “The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer For Building Trust at Work.”

Feltman defines trust as: “Choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions.” Distrust is: “What is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).”

Feltman encourages people to approach trust after completing a personal risk assessment where individuals determine their values. The next step is for their behaviors to express their values. He believes this is a moral commitment where someone can take a look at themselves, ask “How am I doing?” and then stay open to feedback.

The assessment, based on facts not feelings, revolves around four distinct assessment domains. When these domains exist, a culture of trust can be achieved:

· Care: You have my interests in mind.

· Sincerity: You are honest and do what you say you are going to do.

· Reliability: You keep your promises or commitments, and you do not overcommit.

· Competence: You express clear shared standards and can deliver according to the standards.

Of these, the No. 1 issue Feltman discovers in companies revolves around clear and complete requests of each other.

Start at the Top

Why does trust matter so much? With it, companies create better cultures in which employees can make better decisions according to their set strategies. The result is performance and loyalty. This doesn’t mean a company’s culture turns into rainbows and sunshine once trust is established. Feltman says trust actually allows employees to argue and debate in an environment where they feel safe and supported. The end result might be tense at times, but it leads to true productivity and problem solving. Without it, employees talk about each other and are unreliable, disloyal and inconsistent.

The Edelman report revealed that trust decreases from top positions on down (64% of executives trust an organization vs. 51% of managers vs. 48% of staff). The bottom line is trust starts with leaders. Check out “The Thin Book of Trust”—it truly is thin and a fast read—or listen to some podcasts about Feltman’s theories, like this one. The tips might improve your company culture to keep everyone on target as employees continue to face pandemic-related challenges in the construction industry.



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