A lean approach to working standards

October 03, 2022 | 12:08
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Many labour-intensive manufacturers and companies in Vietnam are looking to improve their Internal Working Regulations (IWRs) with a lean approach, according to a recent workshop.

A workshop titled “The Know 1: Lean Thinking as part of Post-Covid19 Working Life ,” organised by Respect Vietnam and AmCham Vietnam on September 29, 2022, has shed light on the implementation of IWRs in Vietnam. It was the first out of five training workshops in “The Know Series,” which features new value-added learning approaches for higher productivity and efficiency post-pandemic.

The event was co-hosted by Cancham, KoCham, InCham, CTCVN, HKBAV and Singapore Business Group. Weatwork.co, VCOL- Vietnam Community of Learning Organizations, and the Asia Foundation are the co-sponsors.

A lean approach to working standards

Speaking at the event, Ha Dang, the founder and strategic advisor of Respect Vietnam said, “Lean thinking has become essential for business in Vietnam post-COVID. Businesses in different fields, ranging from service to manufacturing sectors, are looking to adopt lean thinking to reduce wastes while maintaining or increasing values.”

As a research and consulting organisation, Respect Vietnam has conducted several surveys to explore the relationship between employees and employers in the past years. The biggest survey covers 100 companies across 13 localities in Vietnam, which employ over 100,000 employees.

The findings reveal that 50 per cent of employees don’t fully understand the rules and policies set by their companies. This results in miscommunication of working standards, poor workplace discipline, low labour productivity and poor business performance (including delays, disruptions or closures during social unrests)

Realising these challenges, Respect Vietnam has researched and developed The Know, a set of optimal solutions for lean thinking at work.

“It is clear that if we can simplify and prioritise the working rules and policies by adopting lean thinking, it can help enhance employee disciplines, team productivity and business performance as the whole,” Ha said.

At the workshop, enterprises recognised the importance of legal compliance and work discipline as the foundation of business efficiency and business opportunities (for enterprises entering international markets where international labour standards are required to be upheld).

According to Yen Pham, an HR Manager at Intel Vietnam, IWR documents are often made up of dozens of pages, and the provincial Department approves the content of Labour.

"Developing a lean document doesn’t mean removing all the unnecessary words. Instead, it is vital to retain the key messages in a coherent framework that makes it easy for employees to read, memorise and check anytime they need, especially when they need clarity on regulations that, if violated, will be subject to fines," said Pham.

“The basic insight of lean thinking is to eliminate waste. Many companies waste much time and effort on IWR training activities. It usually takes 2-4 hours per employee to complete a training session. For a manufacturing company with 10,000 employees, the training time can take a huge amount of time. If being converted into productivity, the company may lose millions in products. In the meantime, disciplinary actions are not necessarily followed. Lean thinking will help reduce training time while increasing productivity.”

A lean approach to working standards

On the same note, Doan Hoang, head of the Compliance Department at Fashion Garments Co., said that the company was currently managing over 10,000 employees in eight factories. It is a challenging task to ensure the IWR training and application for all factories in a cost-effective and consistent manner. To this end, Fashion Garments Co has made efforts to adopt lean thinking by digitizing its workplace regulations.

She said, “To optimise our resources, we have decided to digitise our IWR document, which is friendly for our employees. As 95 per cent of our workers have their own smartphones, we have designed the document for both PCs and smartphones. We also incorporate the latest marketing/communication trends to attract employees' attention. At the training session, we show a guideline video to help them navigate and access the document online. By digitalising workplace regulations, the company has significantly reduced the training time and costs while increasing added value.”

Doan Xuan Truong, a lecturer at Hanoi Law University, suggested that businesses adopt the RCCC model (R stands for Risk, C for Conflict, C for Change and C for Crisis). "Take sexual harassment, for example – the RCCC model can help the company to deal with this issue in the workplace. Specifically, the company can learn to improve their process to protect the employees as well as create a healthy and enabling working environment, as the Labor Law 2019 gives freedom for employers to design their own policies against Sexual Harassment. Besides solutions such as installing security cameras, and lighting dark areas and walls made of transparent classes to increase protection, it is important for employers to adopt RCCC management to avoid accumulated unsolved issues that might lead to crises that affect the company’s reputation and even business activities," Doan said

Ha Dang, an international expert in labour standards in Free Trade Agreements, discussed the 4P model that elaborates on what companies should do with Problem Identification, Procedure Improvement, People Engagement, and Policy Development to end sexual harassment and violence at work.

The audience was impressed with the insights and suggestions that answered questions about how to develop “living” and “actionable” sexual harassment policies at work. Ha promised to deliver the digitalised Handbook of 28 new regulations under the 2019 Labour Code to attendees.

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