Day care centre as a competitive advantage

"At first parents didn’t think this would be a good place. Because it is free of charge they thought ‘it’s impossible’ and thought their children wouldn’t be treated well. I thought they were sceptical to me and the rest of the staff. Gradually though that changed when they saw the impact this place has on their children." Lu Zhiqin, Responsible for the day care centre

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 home work. It is a typical evening at the newly started centre.

“Every child of every Concord employee can come here, but we restrict it to children between the ages of three and ten,” Lu Zhiqin explains, she is responsible for the day care centre. “We do not have resources to care for children under three, because the 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 by Dongguan Concord Pottery 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 cost money.”

The day care centre has meant that some parents are more willing to stay longer at the factory, something that Lu Zhiqin hear 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.”

Shi Qin is the front desk receptionist at Dongguan Concord Pottery. She has been with the company for 11 years.

“I feel good about work, because my kid is here in the day care centre. All parents here can set our minds to rest when working. I’m not worried that he will be in danger, that sort of thing. The factory did a good job setting it up,” Shi Qin says.

“Before when there was no day care centre we used to leave our kids in the community centre before we went to work and basically nobody took care of them. We used to leave them in the area outside the dormitory building, outside the dining hall where there is some exercise equipment. The security guards would talk to them and keep them out of danger, but not take care of them. It was too dangerous to leave them in the dormitories, with electric equipment and things.”

“I think Concord is very considerate to employees. If we work outside hometown, we have to leave the kid to our parents. But things are not going to work out like this. We can bring him out now that Concord has set up kindergarten, and raise him ourselves. When we get off work or during vacations, we can hang out and show him everywhere. It's so much better to bring kid out than leaving him at hometown.”