A Yalelo employee answering the video survey in Lusaka, Zambia.
Yalelo: Voices of the employees – piloting a video survey in Zambia
“I think one if the most neglected aspects in many companies is understanding where you are coming from. We assume that when I show up for work it is just me, but if the company has a basic idea of how many people I have in my bag when I come to work that pretty much makes the company understand my current situation at work and everything about me,” says Kunda Ndashe.
Ndashe used to work as the Environmental, Social, Quality Assurance and Fish Health Manager at Yalelo, the leading aquaculture company in Zambia.
Yalelo, together with Finnfund, conducted a survey to collect feedback from Yalelo employees.
“In addition to work-related questions, we wanted to better understand if and how the job can contribute to the wellbeing of the whole family,” says Kaisa Alavuotunki, Director, Impact and Sustainability, at Finnfund.
Everybody can be heard
The survey was conducted across a representative sampling of Yalelo’s staff in the cities of Lusaka, Siavonga, and Kitwe – from those who work in the hatcheries and feed, those who harvest the fish on Lake Kariba, to other staff working in Yalelo’s processing warehouses, learning and development, and administration offices and retail stores.
The key idea was to give people a chance to give feedback and share their ideas directly and anonymously. This was possible thanks to video survey technology developed by Work Ahead, a Finnish tech company, which allows people to hear the question over video in their own local language – and answer 100% anonymously by pressing a visual icon on a device screen. In other words, those taking the video survey did not need to be able to read and write to answer the questions.
The survey, conducted in early to mid-2021, consisted of 39 questions in 4 languages: Bemba, Tonga, Nyanja and English. Altogether, 228 people answered the questions, accounting for over 20% of Yalelo Zambia’s staff.
Year of investment: 2019
Read more about our investment in Yalelo
Read more about Finnfund's investments in sustainable agriculture
What is the most important question for you?
The survey included several questions related to the quality of work, how things are at the workplace as well as questions related to staff wellbeing at home. When we asked afterwards what questions people valued the most, the answers varied:
“For me it was the question about whether the opinions of the employees can change the company. That was very important to me,” said Benard Fundi, Warehouse Loading Clerk in Lusaka.
“All the questions were pretty interesting. Especially the question where they asked about drinking water. I think water is life, so that question is for good for everybody. We get to have clean drinking water every day,” said Bertha Chipili, Store Manager Buseko in Lusaka.
In general, people appreciated the opportunity to give feedback and to be heard. Based on the feedback asked after the survey, we learned that for some, it was the first time an employer had asked such questions.
“I have never been asked such questions”, said Charles Hakantu, a Fish Grader in Siavonga. “This helps us workers to know that the company is considering us.”
Improved engagement and opportunities to grow
“The survey provided us an opportunity to engage more with our staff in different locations and at different levels in the organization, and to gain a deeper understanding of the social backgrounds of the employees,” says Mwene Banda, Acting HR Business Partner, at Yalelo
“Personally, it has changed the way I interact with every employee – knowing their background and the different challenges they face – and it has helped me as an HR profession have a more humanistic approach to my job,” he continues.
Yalelo has intensified its efforts on internal career development and advancement and has also engaged in cross-departmental secondments and job swaps as part of a targeted response to the question of whether employees feel they have the opportunity to grow within the organization. Yalelo now has 5 employees acting in more senior roles and has managed to map educational qualifications to filling positions on a secondment basis. This includes Kunda Ndashe who has since been promoted to Acting Assistant Production Director.
Even further, Yalelo has upped the ante on performance management and is trying to improve relationships between line managers and employees so that employees feel that their managers are concerned about their line staff as people.
Yalelo also has designated HR staff assigned to specific work units to carry out regular staff clinics to foster understanding around key employment matters. This includes undertaking policy briefings and providing staff with an opportunity to ask questions about additional compensation, such as overtime and shift differential payments, that appear on their payslips.
Strengthening the relationship
The survey was part of a pilot project initiated by Finnfund designed to support its investees to better collect and analyse feedback and impact data from their stakeholders, which can, at the end of the day, provide valuable information for the development of their operations, policies, and processes.
In addition, the survey can strengthen the relationship with important stakeholders such as workers, neighbouring communities, partners, and suppliers.
“For us, as a development financier and impact investor, it is really important to reach out directly to people and learn from them. We need to better understand the influence our investee companies have on their stakeholders’ lives. These types of surveys also increase our understanding on how people are coping with sudden shocks and how quickly they are able to build back,” says Kaisa Alavuotunki.
“Particularly, in the midst of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this has provided both us and the companies an opportunity to collect feedback and impact data directly from the key people,” she adds.
What did Yalelo staff think about the survey? Watch a video at Yalelo: Voices of the Employees – Piloting a video survey in Zambia – YouTube
The New Forests Company: Social survey provided valuable feedback from tree out-growers – Finnfund
Anne Arvola, Senior Development Impact Adviser, email@example.com, +358 44 356 4590
Kaisa Alavuotunki, Director, Impact and Sustainability, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 41 522 3693
Kirsi Pere, Communications Manager, email@example.com, +358 40 620 9767 (media contacts)
Some key results from the survey
96% of the respondents said “yes” or “partially”, that workers take good care of their safety
93% believe that good suggestions or valid complaints from employees lead to changes
93% of the respondents said “yes” or “partially” that they and their families have access to clean drinking water every day
93% of the respondents said “yes” or “partially” that they and their families have access to healthcare
91% feel motivated to come to work every day
85% feel men and women are treated equally in workplace
19% likely to live below the national poverty line
Asking about quality of life – both at work and at home
The survey consisted of both work and home-related questions. Questions on the quality of the work included, for instance:
Are your supervisors communicating enough about safety at work?
Do you get paid for working overtime? Is everyone at your workplace treated equally? Regardless of individual characteristics such as origin, religion, or political opinion
Are men and women treated equally in your workplace?
Have you ever experienced sexual harassment at this workplace?
Do you have opportunities within the company to learn and grow professionally?
In regarding the family life, wellbeing and standards of living, there were questions such as:
Yourself included, how many adults in your household work as formal employees? That means working in a formal environment and / or receiving a salary.
Is your house connected to electricity?
Is your home safe and adequate to your needs?
Do you and your family have access to clean drinking water every day?
When necessary, can you access adequate health care for you and your family?
Generally speaking, do you and your family have enough food to eat?