How to Retain Garment Factory Workers?

Factories don't get enough workers to keep their all sewing lines running. There is a high rate of labour turnover (11.62% per month) every month. These are the current facts of the labour oriented garment industry. Factories are looking for solutions to retain their exiting workers and reduce labour turnover rate.

But how to retain your labour?

Read on possible solutions in the following. You can introduce one or more in your factory to retain your workers.

Pay salary on Time

You might be paying salary to your operators on time. Many factories don't pay operator's salary on time. Even there is not fixed date in a moth when workers would get the salary for their work. This situation may increase operator turnover rate.

Increase Salary

Find ways to raise employee earning. You can do this by introducing performance incentives, increasing productivity, introducing attendance bonus, yearly bonus, increment of salary in a year etc. Pay salary higher than minimum wages.

Give workers chance to earn more money in a month

You need to find a way to help workers earning more than limited salary. You have following options to do so.

If you have salaried workers, find ways to increase their monthly salary. This can be done by allowing overtime work. Many factories practice regular overtime.

You can think about introducing performance incentives (if you don't already implement it).

For piece rate operators, give them enough work (cuttings), or show them fabrics inventory in the store. So that they can see money waiting for them. Seeing the pile of cuttings, they know that they can earn enough money by putting efforts. If you can't show them work for near future, they wouldn't stay with you for a longer time.

While you work for retaining exiting workers, you have also need to find an innovative way to attract enough workers to your factory. Read following examples.

Set up inhouse operator training center 

Open training center for fresher’s. This will attract many who are looking for a work in garment factories but don't know how to sew. After training you can use them in sewing floor.

Hiring female workers 

It is considered that female workers are more loyal to company. Prefer hiring female workers as many as possible.

Provide conveyance facility 

If your workers are living in distance from you the factory, provide them conveyance facility.

Employee motivation other than money 

You can start distributing awards for best performers or just display photographs for Best performer of the month for recognition.

I have mentioned possible reasons and solution for higher worker turnover in the garment factories. Now you have to do your job finding the reason(s). And act accordingly. Reasons of labour turnover vary depending on demographics.

To retain your workers, you need to understand why workers (employees) leave your factory. Conduct labour exit interview and gather reasons for leaving your factory. Later you can do further analysis using problem solving methodology (Ishikawa's Fish bone Diagram or 5 Why method).

It is possible improving labour turnover rate. A good example is shown in the project report done by Impactt Limited. See the following snapshot of study results and improvement done in Bangladesh and in Indian factories.
In the report, Impactt explained how they brought such improvement.
Read the full report of "Nicer Work? Impactt's Benefits for Business and Workers Programme 2011-2013" (this link is removed)

P.S. As said above reason of operators varies company to company and demographics, you need to act based on your situation.

If you have done work on this issue earlier, you are invited to share experience here.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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