The smartphone has revolutionized life for billions worldwide, yet if you walk into many garment factories, workers are not allowed to use their phones on the factory floor and most factories do not have an open WiFi network that their workers can use. Yet during breaks and lunchtime, the first thing workers do is pull out their smartphone. So, LF asked, what if we could turn the smartphone into a tool to educate workers on critical life skills and help factory managers improve their employee engagement efforts in tangible ways?
These questions led to the launch of the LF Workers App, a joint initiative between the Fung Academy and Li & Fung. The app recently soft-launched across 10 suppliers in Vietnam – reaching over 15,000 workers. After just six weeks, the app has garnered over 26,000 screen views. The aim of the app is to help factory management engage their workers through surveys, announcements, and educational content about health, safety and productivity.
“There is a lot of interest in the app, because every factory is under pressure to engage workers and retain them,” said Lynn Luc, Li & Fung General Manager in Vietnam, “plus, it is a big time saver, because many factories are already doing surveys, but by paper – we have to help them go digital.”
The LF Workers App has grown out of the HERProject, a health and financial literacy training program for 185,000 workers in 85 suppliers in four key production countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Bangladesh) and implemented jointly by the Fung Academy and Li & Fung. The program, which is the Fung Group and Li & Fung’s biggest supply chain engagement project to date, has positively educated and engaged workers, while reducing absenteeism and raising productivity in factories.
“As the on-site trainings finished, we naturally sought a way to sustain the benefits of education and engagement, and the smartphone was an obvious choice,” said Pamela Mar, Fung Group Director of Sustainability, “smartphone usage among factory workers is rising fast and by 2020 every factory worker is likely to own one – our objective is to help factories and supply chain managers use the mobile as a means of creating a smarter supply chain.”
The app is a key tool in Li & Fung’s forward-moving efforts, as we work toward our Three-Year Plan of Speed, Innovation, and Digitalization.
“Educating workers, and capturing data about which factories are better at engaging their workers, is complementary to the data that we are already capturing about factory compliance,” said Harsh Saini, Li & Fung’s Executive Vice President of Vendor Compliance and Sustainability, “it is the first step in moving beyond audits to real-time data capture,” she said.
Currently available in Vietnamese and English, efforts are underway to launch the LF Workers App in India and Indonesia in 2018, followed by Cambodia and Bangladesh in 2019.
An ecosystem of partnerships between content providers and hardware providers is being developed and we welcome all suggestions.
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