Worker voice guide
This is our short worker voice guide. Worker voice means the views of the workers and worker voice can cover pay, freedoms, treatment, conditions and governance. It can also be called “employee voice”.
- Some systems are designed to support a wide range of HR functions such as training, internal communications or by doing surveys. Stakeholders then obtain worker voice data by eavesdropping on these internal activities.
- At PrimaDollar, we take a different approach and our mobile app collects the worker voice directly, continually and in real-time.
Making worker voice data useful
Worker voice data, by itself, is not very useful. It can cover a wide range of topics and it also needs to be moderated to filter out random, inconsistent or artifical response patterns.
We use worker voice data to generate a “social score” on a workplace and we support the social score with simple diagnostic dashboards that enable a deeper dive into the statistics. This is a powerful ESG compliance tool. As this worker voice guide explains, social scores reflect how workplaces treat their workers, and this is part of “ESG” compliance.
ESG means “environmental, social and governance”. ESG measures the impact of business activities on society.
Workers are important
Workers are one of the most important sources of data for measuring the “S” of ESG (social) and significant voice when it comes to the “G” (governance).
Asking workers how they are treated day-to-day is a natural and authentic way to assess levels of compliance and this should be done by systems that are well-designed and sensibly deployed.
Why use worker voice?
This worker voice guide points out that workers are a 3rd party group with an authentic voice.
- Workers experience the labour and govenance polices of a workplace every day.
- Moreover, worker voice systems can run 24 hours a day in order to collect worker voice data. So monitoring can continue all year round even if audits only happen once per year.
A well-designed worker voice system is low cost, quick and easy to implement.
Using the data to generate a “social score” on for workplace involved provides a simple, standardised, comparable and universal measure of social compliance for a workplace.
The scope of worker voice
We use worker voice to check many aspects of a workplace, such as:
- Facilities: Sufficent breaks during the day for food, water, toilets etc and the facilities should be sufficient and acceptable.
- Freedoms: Hours, pay, overtime, and rights to associate are all important parts of monitoring for forced labour / labor issues in supply chains.
- Fairness: Equal treatment and conditions between men and women are expected, without discrimination with respect to race, culture, orientations etc. and a fair, living wage.
- Pay: Workers expect to be paid on time and without deductions and fair arrangements for sick pay, maternity pay and similar should be standard.
- Safety: We ask workers if they feel safe at work, and if they are harassed.
- Grievance: Good internal systems allow workers to raise concerns with their managers and for whistleblowing. There should also be easy access to external resources like local helplines if internal systems are not working well.
- Knowledge: Most companies agree to make sure that worker know their rights, and they support this process with training.
We can verify these matters by asking the workers, and use worker voice as a powerful measure of the social contract. In this way, we support progress on 7 out of the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Take care over worker voice
Humanity United has created a set of principles for worker voice technologies, and these are known as the “WEST Principles”. You can read the WEST Principles here. A good worker voice app is based on these principles.
Worker voice is not a replacement for regular audits and other checks. We recommend using worker voice to support regular audits, visits and monitoring, and to make sure that surveillance continues when auditors are not on site. There are limitations to the value of what workers may say, even using a well-designed system.
Our longer article sets out more here: “Worker voice: 7 things to know“, (click to read).
Here are three key points from our longer article on this topic:
- Local management may try to influence results, although good worker voice systems can detect this quite easily.
- Worker voice is also an opinion. What we hear is what they believe..
- Workers may also not fully understand their rights and may be settling for less than they should.
It is very important to retain a strong sense of perspective when considering the role that worker voice data can play in social audit and ESG compliance.
What does a well-designed worker voice system look like?
A worker voice technology system should have a narrow scope and be well-designed. Mobile apps should have the smallest possible footprint, a simple and targetted range of functions, and should have real staying power on worker phones. This last point is especially important. In this area, we have found that “less is more“.
Generally, HR systems are not good sources of worker voice data. HR systems usually support 2-way communication between workers and management on which external stakeholders “eavesdrop” to detect and understand what workers are saying. These systems are principally being used for other purposes, and so may fall out of regular use or they are only active when there is a periodic survey or specific training process.
The best worker voice systems are specifically designed to collect the worker voice, operate continually, and then transmit the findings authentically and simply to external stakeholders, such as corporate customers, shareholders, ultimate consumers.
Worker voice provides a valuable third party measure of ESG performance.
It can be authentic, actionable, standardised and comparable.
Read more here about our system. We deliver transparency and trust between workplaces, supply chains and stakeholders.
Our worker voice guide is one of our one minute guides and they are quick introductions to topics related to supply chains, trade finance, and ESG.
You can access the full set of guides here. We add new guides from time to time.
How can I find out more?
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