WOVO has “sizeable economic returns” for businesses, concludes an academic study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The randomized control trial took place in two factories at Shahi Exports – a large garment manufacturer in India. The study was made possible through a collaboration between Labor Solutions, The Children’s Place, Good Business Lab and Shahi Exports.
Researchers asked: Does giving workers a voice – enabling direct communication of grievances and concerns with employers – impact workplace behavior and exit decisions?
To answer this question, researchers randomly placed 7,500 workers at two Shahi factories into two groups:
[Treatment group] The first group received training on the service and received SMS reminders encouraging them to use the service.
[Control Group] The second group received no training nor any kind of encouragement to use WOVO. Ethically, they weren’t stopped from using it but were not formally introduced to the tool or encouraged to use it.
The study measured three important workplace behaviors: retention, absenteeism, and productivity.
Over the course of seven months, only five percent of workers in the treatment group used WOVO to proactively ask a question, suggest or make a report to management. Still, business and worker outcomes drastically improved, suggesting that the mere availability of WOVO is enough to improve worker engagement and improve the bottom line. In the paper’s conclusion, researchers found that “simply knowing it is possible to communicate concerns effectively, even if concerns arise only sporadically, increases worker utility enough to change workplace outcomes.”
The Report’s Rate of Return Calculation Section stated: “Attendance and retention benefits totaled about 25,000 USD, implying a net rate of return of approximately 52%.”
Workers in the treatment group were 5% less likely to be absent than workers in the control group.
Workers and management found WOVO to be easy to use and that it brought a positive change in the work culture.
Almost all workers owned a phone or had access to a phone.
However, only 50% had a smartphone, indicating that in India SMS continues to be a critical functionality to make available to workers in WOVO facilities.
The study showed that investing in worker voice technologies, such as WOVO, can drive long term profits by reducing costly worker turnover and absenteeism.
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About Labor Solutions
Labor Solutions, an impact-focused business, leverages technology to connect, engage and educate workers to build resilient supply chains. Over a million and a half workers in 25 countries have access to Labor Solutions’ worker engagement platform, WOVO. Workers can respond to worker surveys, report grievances and access eLearning modules on rights and responsibilities.
For more information on how you can proactively identify your supply chain risks via WOVO and actually remediate them, get in touch with Labor Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.