Unethical practices in construction management are among the biggest problems facing the construction industry.
Companies that participate in unethical practices typically have higher injury rates than other companies due to unsafe work environments. These practices also lead to higher customer costs, pricing issues for competing companies, and a poor reputation for the industry.
A critical step that construction managers can take is committing to ethical practices during every step of the construction process. Today, discover why you should focus on preventing unethical practices in construction.
3 Areas to Root Out Unethical Practices in Construction Management
Being proactive about ethics will make you a better construction manager. You will also be doing your part to accelerate construction excellence by operating according to high ethical standards. Consider why you should take action now in these three areas.
1. Ethical Practices in Pricing
As with any industry, companies that operate in the construction industry are focused on making a profit. However, profits should never be the only thing that matters. Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to operate ethically and still be profitable.
Unfortunately, unethical behavior often starts at the beginning of the process. Bid rigging, which takes place when multiple competitors agree on which company will win the bid, puts the client at an unfair advantage.
In bid rigging, companies put in unreasonably high bids or refuse to place bids at all. This form of collusion allows the predetermined winner of the bid to make an offer that is high but still comes in under unrealistic bids.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for unethical behavior to start with contract formation before work begins. Not only is a contract a legally binding agreement between the construction company and the project owner (your client), but it’s also an ethical agreement in which both parties vow to hold up their ends of the deal.
Construction companies who overprice services in their contracts, put things into contracts that clients don’t need, or fail to live up to some details of the contract are operating unethically.
In the long run, it’s most important to act ethically upfront. If you observe that anyone in your company or another company is acting unethically during the preliminary stages of bidding, pricing, and creating contracts, you should take steps to raise the alarm to supervisors and other parties involved in the proposed project.
Additionally, suppose you believe that certain companies are bid rigging or engaging in other unethical practices. In that case, you should consider reporting any instances of these unethical practices to your state construction board. If you have evidence of a severe violation, consider gathering support from your company to help in this area.
2. Ethics on the Job Site
Adhering to a code of ethics is not limited to the financial aspects of construction projects. In fact, one of the most important areas for a constructor to remain ethical is implementing construction safety programs.
When formulating plans for the job site, construction managers must keep in mind the men and women who will be working on the job site. Providing workers with a safe workplace is not only a good business move but also ethical.
You do not want to sacrifice safety in the name of meeting deadlines or trying to come in under budget. Taking shortcuts often results in safety issues that create serious consequences that outweigh any benefits of cutting corners.
Trying to get things done quickly can cause injuries, leading to financial loss and a bad reputation for the company. Also, employees want to work for companies that value their safety, which is a great reason to practice safety ethics in construction.
As a construction manager, if you feel pressured to act unethically at the job site to meet a deadline or budget requirement, raise your concerns to a higher-up. Being proactive about safety is absolutely critical to protect your people, the company, and the project owner.
3. Use Metrics to Identify Unethical Actions
Identifying unethical actions in the construction industry is a responsibility that all construction managers should embrace. One of the most effective ways to recognize unethical practices involves looking at key metrics.
You don’t want to ignore any key indicators that point to serious issues at the job site. Instead, use the evidence to identify safety gaps and gather additional information about what’s going on:
- Ask questions.
- Review safety practices with your crew.
- Understand what’s working and not working.
- Don’t ignore red flags – use the warning signs to take action!
Once you gather information about what’s happening at the job site, you can work toward implementing measures that will protect work crews, support your company, and look out for your client. This step is critical for ensuring your company maintains a healthy safety posture at all times.
Learn More About Unethical Practices in Construction Management
We have touched on a handful of scenarios where managers encounter unethical practices in construction management and should take steps to address these situations.
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