The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the limits of relying on face-to-face communication, and has also demonstrated the importance of having a digital communication platform in place to connect with workers. The ‘new normal’ is about changing how we live and interact with others, including how we adhere to new laws and regulations. Communicating and listening to workers effectively is key to implementing these changes.
As the journey to establish the ‘new normal’ begins, employers reflect on successful tools and strategies used during the emergency and formulate strategies for moving forward. Team members who a year ago had been hesitant to implement WOVO, now see the urgency. Gauri Sharma, Operational Development Manager at Shahi Exports, says “Managers have come to me and said, ‘we need an effective communication system now… tools like WOVO are going to be the future of how communication is done in factories.’”
Whether workers have stayed on-site throughout the emergency or were sent home, Labor Solutions clients around the world report a huge uptick in WOVO utilization. Both factory management and workers quickly turned to WOVO to stay in touch. Workers were able to voice their concerns, ask questions and get answers about topics important to them. This quick and comprehensive utilization of the WOVO tool by workers allowed management to quickly identify and address leading concerns and causes of stress.
We spoke to several employers about how they used WOVO.
Starting Communications Early
Dianzhen Lin, the human resources manager at Dongguan Pouchen, a footwear factory in China, said WOVO has been essential to a smooth transition into the new normal, “WOVO has been our first choice for information dissemination since our factory reopened in the second half of February this year. With WOVO we were able to quickly inform workers what was going to happen. They can check immediately. The SMS accessibility of WOVO also allows companies to spread the word to those who do not own a smartphone, reaching basically everyone in the workforce.”
When Pouchen started to reopen, they proactively used WOVO to send newsletters with clear and detailed steps for each worker to take to protect themselves and their coworkers. These steps included the proper use of disinfectants, conducting more frequent workplace inspections, adhering to social distance guidelines, and wearing masks and other personal protective equipment, where necessary. Dongguan Pouchen reported that WOVO’s ability to send “dynamic and eye-catching content” was “important to make workers pay attention because that helps them digest the information.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Hwaseung Indonesia, an apparel manufacturer, decided to temporarily halt operations and send workers home. Workers quickly turned to WOVO to express concerns about their job security and reduced orders. This increased utilization by 100% from the previous month. The management recognized that WOVO was key to keeping communication channels open and workers engaged. The factory formed a WOVO Committee to better manage incoming messages and develop communication strategies to keep workers engaged and up to date while they were offsite. This resulted in the management reducing their response and resolution time.
Hwaseung is thankful they had WOVO during the crisis, “WOVO has helped us better communicate with our workers during COVID-19. Employees have been able to use the WOVO App to ask about COVID-19 policies in Indonesia or in our company. When our factory was closed and other times when we really cannot meet workers in person, WOVO helps us communicate with employees and respond to their questions and complaints.”
Answering Workers Questions and Addressing Their Concerns Quickly
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a scary and confusing time for everyone. Reassuring workers that you are listening and answering their questions and addressing their concerns quickly helps reduce stress, and shows that employers and companies care, which is critical when building trust in this time of uncertainties. Workers have and will continue to struggle adapting to the new normal. Whether the transition is smooth depends on worker engagement and buy in.
One human resource manager in a Chinese factory, recalls it being hard at first when new rules kicked in, “When we first required everyone to wear masks, workers were not very happy because the work floor, particularly the gluing area was hot. They sent in so many questions into WOVO.” The management of that factory quickly decided that rather than being defensive by replying every single question with the same explanation, they acted proactively by sending out a newsletters with clear information to help contain and prevent the spread of the virus. Responding to worker feedback, management also saw that ventilation on the work floor prevented workers from wearing proper personal protective gear, and worked to cool the floor. Once workers felt that their concerns were being addressed, they were able to see that “our [management’s] decisions were focused on protecting the overall well-being of all workers.”
Samho, a footwear factory in Vietnam, stayed open through the pandemic. They continued to use WOVO and reported that it was critical, since “management and workers were not willing to conduct face-to-face reporting, so WOVO was the most effective way to communicate and connect the factory with our workforce.” Samho used the WOVO data dashboard to identify that workers were concerned about their personal health and safety, and responded by using WOVO to continuously and proactively send newsletters to workers with information on updated company health and safety policies and procedures. This prompt response helped workers to feel safer and more cared about by management.
Read more about how employers are using surveys to keep workers engaged in the continue process of change