Factories Ask Their Workers the Honest Question, “How Do You Feel About Your Job at This Factory?”

Ten leading brands connect with 110,000+ workers to assess and reduce turnover in China.
Nov 3, 2016 4:15 PM ET
Campaign: Press Releases

OAKLAND, Calif., November 3, 2016 /3BL Media/ – With high rates of worker turnover plaguing China’s manufacturing sector, factories are under a lot of pressure to retain workers. The problem with having a revolving door at your factory is the associated cost of replacing and training a large percentage of your workforce every year. This leaves factories, and their buyers, in a precarious situation to find out what is causing their workers to pack their bags and leave.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report, China has one of the lowest rates of employee engagement in the world. Of the manufacturing workers surveyed, 94% reported feeling “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” while at their job. This low level of worker engagement correlates closely with China’s increasing rates of worker strikes, turnover, and workplace dissatisfaction.

To better understand what factors drive positive worker satisfaction and retention, The Walt Disney Company sponsored the Laborlink China Collaborative in 2014 with ten leading brands, including American Eagle, C&A, Harry’s, Hasbro, J. Crew, Marks & Spencer, Mattel, Vodafone, Walmart, and Walt Disney itself. This first of its kind program was implemented using Laborlink, an anonymous mobile survey platform designed and managed by Good World Solutions.

Between 2015 and 2016, 70 Chinese factories invited nearly 119,000 workers to call Laborlink and complete a short survey on their current job satisfaction. Survey questions include, “How do you feel about your job at this factory?” and “Do you ever feel stressed about work?” With Laborlink, workers can easily and anonymously enter their survey responses using their phones’ keypad.

Survey responses show that two out of five workers (43%) are dissatisfied with their current job, and from this group, only 30% plan to stay at their factory for at least the next six months. To reverse this trend, factories and brands should focus on the key drivers of their workplace dissatisfaction, which on average, correlated the strongest with bad worker-supervisor relationships, frequent stress, and distrust in the grievance mechanisms.

However, there’s good news – factory interventions are already showing statistically significant increases in job satisfaction. Simply between the baseline and follow-up surveys, workers are reporting 15% less workplace stress and 10% greater likelihood of staying at their factory for the next six months.

Download the inaugural Laborlink China Collaborative 2016 Report for full program details and results.

“Working with Laborlink provides a new dimension of insight into job satisfaction amongst our workforce,” said Huey Wilson, Senior Vice President of Mattel Human Resources. "Along with our existing audit and engagement practices, Laborlink helps us understand what is most important to our workers, and enables us to better engage with them.”

Laborlink’s enhanced analytics and predictive modeling empower factories and brands to address worker concerns by designing programs and taking action on specific findings. Additionally, the size of this program allowed for a first of its kind benchmarking opportunity, which enables factories and brands to stay competitive, track industry trends, and understand how their data compares with peers.

“Disney is proud to have supported and participated in this initiative,” said Michael Widman, Vice President of International Labor Standards at The Walt Disney Company. “We believe that the benchmarking data generated by this project will drive factory improvements and help foster safe, inclusive, and respectful workplaces.”

The Laborlink China Collaborative is now open for new brands and factories to join, and will continue as an ongoing benchmarking program in 2017. To learn more about Laborlink, its survey offerings, or its social mission to connect with every worker – visit www.goodworldsolutions.org.

About Good World Solutions
Good World Solutions is an Oakland-based nonprofit social enterprise that activates technology to create safe and respectful workplaces. Its mobile solution, Laborlink, creates an anonymous two-way communication channel between factory workers and supply chain leaders, 365 days a year. With more frequent and accessible communication, Laborlink is able to surface unheard worker voices and translate their feedback into actionable analytics.

Since 2010, Laborlink has reached more than 850,000 workers in the supply chains of 30+ leading apparel and electronics companies across 16 countries. Our vision is a world where every worker is heard and where worker well-being is integral to business success.