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On the factory floors of one of Levi Strauss Suppliers in Mexico City, a program called “Improving Worker Well-Being” is implemented amongst its garment workers. The program is a 10-week course that teaches about health, hygiene and sanitation, and also communication and critical thinking. As per Kim Almeida who heads the program, “This is about creating a culture that embraces well-being”. The goal is to build a network of more productive factories with happier, healthier employees and lower rates of costly absenteeism and employee turnover.
The program plan started with peer-led sessions with the factory line supervisors and managers as the first learners and eventually champion the program to their organization members. Ten weeks after the wellbeing program began, workers, line supervisors, and managers speaks of a workforce transformed. The program is indeed bright on its intentions; however, sustainability was a challenge. Chip Bergh came to Levi’s as CEO in 2011 where by that time the Well-being program is already running. He fully supports the initiative, but he needed to think bigger on how the to make the program sustainable over time with the thinking “We have to prove to the factory owners that this is good for their business so they fund it on their own”. Though it would be a huge task, Levi’s had organized a way that would render higher success. They embedded a sustainability team to its supply chain. Now the person who asks a factory to produce 5000 pants a day is the same person responsible for worker wellbeing. When the initiative was launched, Apparel International (AI) is one of the first suppliers that Levi’s called. AI now works only for Levi Strauss.
With Oscar Franch as the president and Tomas Bello as the CEO for 30 Years. They have admitted that at first that broader well-being of their 4, 000 employees was not something they would spend a lot of time thinking about. But as Kim Almeida presented, the significance of the program resonated with them. AI’s Franch and Bello realized that the limited state of the community around them plays a vital role on the implementation of well-being within the organization. The community where most workers live has a limited financial and health care service. That realization was a turning point. This led the org to focus on workforce improvement. NGO’s played a vital role on the wellbeing program. They gave a hand in conducting factory training sessions. More to the trainings, the management has added work facilities such as breastfeeding room, soccer field, an ATM, motorbike sheds. Technology was also improved with facial recognition time system moreover, improved cafeteria, cooler water, cooler air and of course kinder Supervisor. On top of everything, worker well- being program has also prompted AI to invest in the community. Now the leaders at AI take pride of the impact the wellbeing program made and how it transcended outside of its factory walls. The community now has an improved health care facility more so a Financial model that would sustain the well-being program through a foundation that generates income by turning Levi fabric scraps into goods and is sold locally.
Living in the fast-developing city of Santa Rosa Laguna; I have seen how factories and the manufacturing Industry itself developed and continues to grow. I have met first hand, friends who you may have seen lining up at 5 AM on their pick up points wearing the same uniform waiting for their shuttle buses to take them on yet another day at work. People who have been living a factory/manufacturing life. Is it a dream job? Well for some it maybe not. At least not from the stories I heard from people I know. Among the common grounds of their stories is how the job does not allow any room for growth and development. It’s as if they feel like a faceless cog in a big corporate machinery. It really got me thinking how the Idea of a job just being able to “pay the bills “is no longer enough motivation. Furthermore, it got me questioning how far has the Idea of Innovative Workplace Management as such told on the Article “The Ties that Bind at Levis” exist and applied amongst the many factories and manufacturing company here in Santa Rosa. And my pragmatic answer would have to be, No. There still is a lot to do and to work on. You probably not new about Idea of worker strikes and union. And why is the need for Innovative Workplace Management an ethical challenge for industries like manufacturing? Is it because of the limited credentials the factory workforce carries among them? You may challenge the idea but it is. Qualification to get into the job is not narrow at all, try checking an online job site. Having said that, is it enough that the industry just considers the minimum monetary reward. Is the “business is business” rationale unethical on the discussion of employee wellbeing or is it just right to accept the fact that they are at least being paid for the work done nothing more nothing less?
I am not to claim my reflection as the truth, it was more of questions base from observation and people who have been in the situation. I just feel like they deserve more from the Industry. I truly support the Idea that a motivated employee increases workforce stability and consequently employee turnover will have a lesser frequency in workplaces that is empowered and happy. These also encourages a positive work culture. Bu for now this is the opposite for some, it is sad how some of the Giants in the industry has found its way to play by the rules and laws to achieve the ultimate goal of income and return and leaving little for those on the bottom of the chart.
I am truly taking pride to being a part of the Johnson & Johnson Family. My company has become a champion of employee wellbeing and health. Johnson & Johnson’s approach to Health and Wellness Solutions is grounded in the science of behavior change, taking a science-based, scalable approach to sustainable behavior change guided by human understanding and demonstrated through proven outcomes. We engage individuals, connect to what they value most and improve health outcomes, ideally through early intervention. One of the programs that I have yet to attend is the JNJ program called Energy for Performance in Life (E4PIL). The E4PIL focuses on expanding and managing individual energy capacity and empower individuals to become more productive and effective under pressure, as well as achieve sustained high performance, both at work and at home.
The Program seeks to demonstrate that when we manage our energy effectively, we can overcome the challenges before us and kindle our talent and skills to perform under pressure. Essentially, by expanding our energy levels, we become more resilient. It is this resilience that lets us to respond to disordered disturbance or unexpected change, recovering more quickly and often with greater speed.
By training to manage our energy and build capacity, we are able to meet the demands placed on us and flourish. Indeed, the opportunity to be enrolled on such program is truly evident on how my company takes responsibility for their employees.
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