The day care centre at the Dongguan Concord Pottery factory is full of children playing – making hand stands, building a pirate ship or trying to hide from each other in an elaborate game of hide and seek. On the other side of the windows, in the next room, some of the older children are doing their homework. It is a typical evening at the centre. However, what sets this day-care centre apart from the majority of others is that it is located just minutes away from where the children's parents work.
“Every child of every Concord employee can come here, but we restrict it to children between the ages of three and ten, Lu Zhiqin, who is responsible for the day-care centre, explains. “We do not have resources to care for children under three, because they require a lot of attention – but their parents or grandparents can bring them here to play with them if they like.”
Having a day care centre at a work place is not common in China. But there is a striking labour shortage in Southern China, so recruitment is a constant worry for most factories. A day-care centre was seen as a competitive advantage in trying to attract and retain staff.
“Most of our workers come from far away,” Lake Law, head of CSR for the factory, explains. “They have no access to services here for their children, so they leave them at home. The strain on parents working far away from their children, and on the children also, is high. It is not easy. We encourage parents to bring their children. We have converted some of the factory dormitories to accommodate families. It makes sense. We need skilled workers, we need workers to stay. And training new workers costs money.”
The day-care centre has meant that some parents are more willing to stay longer at the factory, something that Lu Zhiqin hears a lot:
“Some of them didn't even think of working here originally, but when they heard that their kids could be taken care of and have shelter, they become interested. After all, they work for the sake of their children. So as long as their children are safe and sound, they will feel that they want to continue working here.”
Indeed, Concord's investment has started to pay off. Since setting up the childcare centre, Concord’s staff turnover rate has dropped from 19.4% during its peak turnover phase in May 2013 to just 3.0% in February 2015. As a result, Concord saves costs on recruitment and training and they also see greater production output due to employing a motivated, loyal workforce. As Mr. Law emphasises, increased output capacity is difficult to directly measure in Dollars, but Concord feels that the childcare centre has made a big difference and was worth it. As an added bonus, Concord now enjoys recognition as a best practice case, with factory management regularly sharing their experiences at CRBP-related functions around the world.
Watch an interview with Concord below