4 Best Practices for Connecting with Electronics Workers
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce report, just 8% of South East Asia’s manufacturing workers are engaged with their job. The situation is worse in India and China with 32% and 26% of workers reporting that they are actively disengaged at work — meaning they are more like to quit or be unproductive or disruptive.
To reverse this trend, factories need to connect with their workers, listen to their feedback, and identify new improvement opportunities that will help boost worker engagement and job retention.
The following are 4 best practices for connecting with workers in electronics supply chains:
1: Adapt to Worker Technology Preferences
For best results, leverage technology that workers are already using. Laborlink surveys are technology agnostic. Instead of investing in one solution, we choose the best route for connecting with workers, whether that is a mobile phone, smartphone, tablet application, or call center.
Smartphone penetration is on the rise throughout Asia, especially in electronics factories where workers tend to be younger, more educated, and more plugged in. In China, we offer two options — WeChat with 700 million monthly users and traditional IVR with pre-recorded questions (e.g. “If you agree, press 1, if you disagree, press 2”). In just this last year, we have seen WeChat use jump from 30% to 79%, demonstrating that technology preferences are constantly evolving and need continuous experimentation.
2: Build Trust through a Partnership Approach
Most factory settings present confidentiality and security challenges for third parties seeking access to connect with workers. For electronics factories, confidentiality concerns run even deeper to protect suppliers’ and brands’ intellectual property. This limited visibility makes Laborlink’s partnership approach with factories all the more critical for building trust with both management and workers. Because we communicate proactively about the Laborlink process and the business value of having anonymous feedback from their own workforce, factories have less of an incentive to coach workers on preferred responses.
Red flags for data coaching and falsification include high uniformity of responses, contradictory answers across questions, fast survey completion times, and suspicious call patterns.
3: Sample Carefully in Large Worker Populations
The workforce in electronics factories tends to be much larger than in other manufacturing settings. In 2015, around 60% of the electronics facilities using Laborlink employed between 4,000 and 40,000 people. While it might be possible to connect with every worker in smaller settings, large factories require a sampling approach.
The representative sample selected is based on the factory size. These samples can be carefully designed to offer a meaningful, and still statistically accurate, cross-section of overall worker experience. In order to verify the extent of which the sample is representative after the data is collected, Laborlink compares demographic variables, such as gender, tenure, or age, between the survey sample and the overall factory population.
4: Benchmark Against Peers to Accelerate Change
When factories ask their workers standardized questions, they are creating an opportunity to benchmark worker perceptions. All stakeholders benefit from benchmarking:
- Factories can use comparative analysis as a motivator to create further improvements in worker satisfaction, which in turn can lower turnover rates, make them more competitive employers, and demonstrate to buyers that they value worker engagement.
- Brands can compare results from multiple factories within their value chain to identify best practices and drive positive competition among suppliers.
- Workers benefit from participating in a program of this scale because their voices are driving specific actions that factories and brands take to improve their workplaces.