Impact Assessment

RCT findings from a garment factory upgrading programme in Burma, BIF 2018

    Description
    Broadly, the improvement programme involved:
    - Teaching factories to track HR and productivity key performance indicators (KPIs) including workforce turnover, cut-to-ship ratio, take-home pay, and line productivity. Tracking began several months before formal classroom training.
    - Training supervisors in new production systems such as line balancing and single piece flow.
    - Upskilling production line managers to improve efficiency, including using production incentives.
    - Training HR managers in approaches that emphasise re-humanisation of workers, improved management of excess overtime, more transparent pay practices, and better communication.

    Methods for info gathering
    Fourteen factories participated in the training programme. The effectiveness of the training was monitored through a randomised controlled trial (RCT) led by an independent academic institution, Tufts University. The study spanned 36 months, starting in January 2015. In each factory, two production lines were selected - one was randomly assigned to be the pilot (treatment) line and one the shadow (control) line.

    Summary of results
    The training is considered to have been successful, with many positive outcomes emerging. At the factory level, businesses experienced substantial reductions in workforce turnover and improvements in productivity. At the individual worker level, reports indicated greater job satisfaction, enhanced communication and problem-solving, and improved mental and physical wellbeing. The training also appears to have made a difference to workers’ families, with some significant findings around improved financial security and related benefits such as households acquiring more assets and being in a position to send children to school more regularly. However, it is important to recognise the complex and nuanced nature of the results and that the training also brought about some negative effects at the factory and individual worker levels.