Workers welfare as well as environmental concerns are “rich countries” issues. Like most companies in Asia, we did not realize the importance of those issues when we started doing business in 1998. But as we grew successfully, we became aware that these were important aspects of doing business. In the early days, our worker turnover was huge. Newly trained workers were quickly leaving and we had to start over again and again with new workers.
We started focusing on workers retention in 2004. To begin with, we tried to tackle work attendance by offering a yearly bonus to workers with a perfect attendance record. Our attendance record (absences, sick leaves, lateness in the morning) for the year 2008 was 4 to 5 times better than it was in 2004
We also registered all our workers with the Thai national social security fund and now, we are mirroring each worker’s monthly payment to the fund.
Around 2004, we also started offering all our workers a free lunch on the company premises. Each day, everyone gets rice, two different dishes, a dessert and water. All our workers are now fed properly which makes a big difference in moral as well as productivity in the afternoon. A food committee composed of managers and staff devises the menus and monitors the quality and cleanliness of the food.
In August 2007, we moved to our new factory in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok. Since moving there, we increased the average length of employment of our workers from slightly over 12 months to over 25 months. In other words, the average worker at Salamander Jewelry has been with the company for over 2 years. A majority of the workers who were with us in the old factory in Bangkok have followed us in our move and have stayed with us ever since.
On the land left after building the factory, we made a sport center with two football pitches and one basketball court. We have four official Salamander Jewelry football teams who train a few times a week after work.
Since 1998, workers at Salamander Jewelry have been receiving bonuses every year. These bonuses range from 2 weeks to 2 months of salary depending on the length of employment of each worker. Everybody has also received a raise of salary at the end of every year that ranged between 5.2 and 9.6% of their monthly salary.
Since 2008, training of our workforce has become a major focus of our improvement drive. In March 2013 we trained our 548 workers a total of 1152 hours. For now, training is focused on skills enhancement as well as security in the work place. Eventually, we hope to move to broader issues like community health and other trainings not related to work.
We have a yearly health checkup performed on the company premises. We hire the mobile clinic of a nearby hospital and all employees get their check up for free.
Safety in the work place is important to us. We’ve imposed strict guidelines on all our employees to reduce accidents. We imported infra-red sensors to install on machines that were potentially dangerous. We installed special flooring mats in areas of the factory where we are using machine oil. Workers in certain positions have to use gloves, ear plugs and eye goggles. Shoes have become compulsory everywhere in the factory (Obvious in the US and Europe but not so in Thailand). Our safety committee monitors the factory and our work processes on a regular basis.
All in all, we have tried very hard to offer a safe and pleasant work environment. The retention rate for our employees shows we have succeeded in becoming a company people want to work for.