Creating the New Normal? Engaging Workers is Key.

The New Normal
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Never have companies had to make such drastic changes to every day operations, nor have workers faced such a unique set of challenges. With no recent historical precedent to COVID-19, factories and workers will have to cooperate to adjust how they work together successfully. Implementing change will be especially challenging and undoubtedly will be a process of trial and error. Success depends on listening and engaging workers in the decision-making process in the creation of the ‘new normal.’

Increasingly, Labor Solutions’ clients are turning to surveys to better understand workers’ experiences and to engage them in policy creation and evaluation. Collecting worker feedback helps not only to inform decisions and change but helps “workers to feel respected and heard when they receive our outreach seeking their opinions”, said a human resources director at Dongguan Pouchen, a footwear factory in China.

Labor Solutions has designed a survey to specifically address COVID-19. Use our off-the-shelf survey or work with our team of statisticians to customize one for your workforce.

The COVID survey sets out to determine:

  • The physical safety of workers and their families
  • The emotional wellbeing and leading causes of stress for workers
  • Workers’ understanding of their access to care
  • Workers’  trust in management
  • Workers’ understanding and feelings about their physical safety at work
  • Workers’ overall sense of engagement in the workplace

Surveys provide timely feedback from workers, allowing companies to quickly implement changes before issues snowball and become impossible to manage. A human resource manager at an apparel factory argued that there is no such thing as a “bad survey result”; every result is an opportunity to learn. When critical feedback is received in a survey, “then it means something is not working with this new policy and we will need to take a deeper look and adjust what we are currently doing.”

One facility that was deemed essential was the addition of living facilities on-site for workers. After a few weeks of cohabitation, management conducted a survey and found that workers missed their families, were frustrated with their roommates, and ultimately needed more time alone. Management worked on allowing for additional time off, this helped with social distancing and helped address the needs of workers.

In several workplaces, WOVO surveys helped to determine that workers had lost trust in their management because of the COVID-19 response. We also found that because they lost trust, they did not feel safe and were concerned about their job security. The Labor Solutions team was able to work with each management team to craft a response and outreach plan to workers. For some workplaces this meant being honest and open about declining orders and pledging to continue to be transparent with workers about the state of the company. For others, this meant implementing new COVID-19 safety measures, and in some cases, this included adding free transport to work and housing options for workers.

These are difficult times. Outreach from management to factory groups will have to be ongoing. Conducting surveys in a structured scheduled manner helps you track changes overtime and to continue to collaborate with workers to determine what the new normal looks like for your company.