John Lewis’ innovative Better Jobs programme aims to improve worker conditions and job satisfaction for the people who make our products. As a co-owned business we are driven by our values and belief in doing the right thing; the objective of Better Jobs is to encourage and support our suppliers to do the same within their own organisations.
Standard factory auditing processes only give a snapshot of working conditions at a particular moment in time but doesn't necessarily lead to long term improvements and behaviour change. We want to encourage meaningful and sustainable positive behaviour change within our supply base, and so, in 2019, we launched the Better Jobs programme with suppliers in the UK who produce John Lewis own-brand products.
The programme focuses on seven key areas which were identified as being critical for improving experience at work.
- Voice - We want the people who make our products to be empowered to voice their opinions, ideas and concerns.
- Growth - We want the people who make our products to have the opportunity to progress.
- Reward - We want people who make our products to be appropriately rewarded through pay, benefits and recognition.
- Security - We want the people who make our products to have security within their role.
- Job design - We want the people who make our products to feel a sense of autonomy within their role.
- Respect - We want the people who make our products to feel respected by others.
- Health and wellbeing - We want the people who make our products to feel well and safe.
The framework was developed in collaboration with experts from the John Lewis Partnership and an advisory group consisting of representatives from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Institute of Employment Studies, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Through an online portal, our suppliers can access guidance and dedicated resources on the framework and employees can complete a survey on their day-to-day experience of the workplace, including their opinion of what makes a good job. Using the responses, our suppliers determine which improvements they should prioritise and we help them to track their improvement progress year-on-year.
To date, 49 suppliers in the UK are using the Better Jobs survey, and over 2,600 employee responses have been collected. In 2020 the key finding was the increased levels of anxiety felt by employees as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, this year we will focus on increasing the capability of our suppliers to be able to improve communication within the workplace, and to support their employees which in turn will help employees have increased resilience and understand the changes that are happening around them.
In 2020, we also piloted the programme with 15 suppliers in our Chinese supply base. Here we noted the importance of good communication between management and employees and similarly that employees were feeling under pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be actively working on this through supplier workshops.
You can find out more about the next steps in our 2020 Better Jobs Report.