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Enhancing Supply Chain Audits: Integrating Worker Surveys and Dialogue

Updated: 5 days ago

Audit programs are vital for assessing compliance and sustainability within supply chains, but they may miss major risks to worker safety and rights. Recent media reports have highlighted that audits are insufficient in detecting risks, especially in issues related to forced labor and other labor abuse incidents.


Continuous engagement methods like worker surveys and grievance mechanisms are an effective augmentation to audits, helping to identify workplace problems.


Using Worker Surveys to Better Inform Social Audits

Recognizing the limitations of traditional methods, multinational companies, multi-stakeholder initiatives, and industry standards like the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) are now incorporating worker surveys into their assessment process. These surveys are anonymous, offering workers a safe space to share feedback - allowing buyers and suppliers to collect larger sample sizes at scale, and detecting trends in the workers’ responses.


These workers’ responses can help identify localized issues that otherwise may go unnoticed. Surveys, when appropriately deployed, provide more representative results, engage more workers at once, and help reveal facility patterns for risk management.


Worker Surveys also have incredible value for employers. By identifying and addressing workplace issues, employers can mitigate safety risks, save time and costs, and retain workers. Employers who leverage workforce data to proactively resolve issues also reduce compliance costs and attract buyers.  



Using Grievance Mechanisms to Monitor Issues

Audits and surveys are useful to evaluate working conditions at a point in time, but they may not catch unexpected incidents. Having an effective grievance mechanism and worker dialogue program between employees and their direct employers (through committees, working groups or mediated by trade unions) can provide real-time insights for improvement.


For example, audits can confirm fire exits are well-maintained, but if a fire exit is blocked, the employer needs to be notified to take immediate action to prevent injuries. A supplier-owned grievance mechanism provides a channel for workers to report incidents, ask questions, or offer suggestions.


Encouraging constructive communication from workers can also prevent dissatisfaction, and safety issues and helps management act before problems become harmful. By tracking and categorizing worker questions and complaints, management can identify when prevention or additional communication may be necessary. For instance, posting a document or holding an information session for all workers might be a better approach than individually responding to similar questions.


WOVO Connect is a Labor Solutions’ platform for direct employer-employee communication. It is a digital grievance mechanism that protects workers' anonymity while allowing two-way dialogue. The case management system enables employers to easily manage communications, including tracking of response times and issue types while workers, on the other hand, can give feedback directly to their employers. Buyers get real-time aggregated data to strengthen existing systems and foster a collaborative approach between all stakeholders.



Continuous Engagement over One Time Data Collection

Worker surveys and grievance mechanisms are beneficial for improving compliance and worker safety. Continuous monitoring of workplace safety through engagement with workers allows for the collection and analysis of real-time data throughout the year, enabling immediate action instead of waiting for one-time audits or an OSH disaster. Utilizing a digitized platform can save time and money, as well as prevent accidents and workplace injuries.


As countries demand proactive measures to address workplace risks, customers will ask about your monitoring programs. Use WOVO to comply, gain control, and make informed decisions with reliable data.


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