About Human Insights
People acknowledge the need for change to a more socially responsible global supply chain, but this has yet to be translated into management processes in factories that allow workers and organisations to operate well and effectively. Safety, wages, working hours and elements like bonded labour are considered within many global factory assessment schemes, yet workers' psychological well-being and impacts on that are not. Nevertheless, factories such as those in China are places where people both live and work, and as such have an impact as communities as well as workplaces. Understanding the well-being of the people working in factories could benefit the wider communities they support as well as the businesses involved.
There is a need to consider these factory workers, and their communities, as critical stakeholder groups who can be physically affected by factory working conditions. There is a lack of factory-worker input into supply-chain theories, while the theory of PsyCap (which considers employees' 'psychological capital') has yet to be applied to these workers and their needs. Relatively little research currently studies this most affected group, or the implications of not including their well-being in the debate.
Through research to date I have identified a need for ways that worker well-being in Chinese factories can be enhanced by positive PsyCap. In particular, the positive organisational behaviour (POB) known as 'self-efficacy' has been shown to be improved by training and personal development, self-expression through diary response, and interaction with corporate communication, yet has not been studied in this context.
My research has already identified three theoretical gaps and disconnects which are:
1. Academics and industry lack an understanding of the well-being, and the priorities, of factory workers. Conflicting narratives around workers' welfare are seen in both media and research.
2. A Western perspective focusing on brands' self-regulation and relationship management in global supply chains has left the views of both factories and workers out of the debate.
3. Few evaluative theories from literature incorporate an ability to assess workers' well-being or whether changes to management processes to improve workers' well-being can impact a factory's performance.
The aim is now to close those gaps.