In early 2020, COVID-19 upended many businesses in the manufacturing space, disrupting carefully managed production workflows. As essential manufacturers began preparing for onsite reopenings, figuring out how to efficiently monitor every employee for symptoms quickly became a huge logistical challenge. For companies like Carlex Glass, a subsidiary of Japan’s Central Glass, implementing a new process seemed detrimental to profits and productivity at best—and at worst, near impossible. Carlex manufactures glass for major players in the automotive industry, including aftermarket products. With 6 large plants in operation, the company needed to account for 1800 employees each day.
As Bill Walker, chief information officer at Carlex Glass, sat with his fellow executives in April 2020 pondering this challenge, he was struck by an idea.
“The president of the company said, ‘It’s going to be difficult, we’re going to have 600 people lined up down the driveway, trying to check in for work,’” Bill says. “That’s when I threw out the idea to use some type of automated survey tool to do that.”
Managing daily health checks for thousands of employees at multiple work sites
Asking hundreds of employees every morning about their symptoms or exposure concerns would be a cumbersome process requiring multiple staff members to monitor checkpoints and try to keep things moving. For a company in an essential industry that needed to get back up to speed and keep its shipments to customers as timely as possible, the in-person process wouldn’t suffice.
If an employee were to answer yes to a question about symptoms, it wouldn’t be efficient for them or the HR team to have the employee stand at the front door while trying to connect on next steps—and, more importantly, it could risk exposing other employees arriving at work. Added together, these challenges would equal additional costs: overtime for employees to staff the door, potential overtime for other employees to cover an unexpected call out, etc.
Carlex faced an additional layer of complication in that the company didn’t have a consistent method in place for communicating with employees en-masse because many of whom don’t have Carlex emails. Informing them of the process in advance would be key to its success.
Bill was able to lean on a tried-and-true tool to create a new system for Carlex; as a previous user of SurveyMonkey, he had a clear path forward and suggested SurveyMonkey Enterprise to the executive team.
Keeping business flowing and employees informed
Carlex first tackled the need to disseminate information about the company’s COVID-19 response and reopening plans. The company leveraged SurveyMonkey as an information tool to send employees a digital packet of information.
“We used it as a way to fill everyone in on what to expect,” Bill says. “It included operations updates, information from HR, mitigation measures, and a letter from the president.” Around the same time, Carlex sent out a Team Member Info Update Survey to begin building a stronger foundation of employee contact information moving forward, setting up the organization for the next phase of the project.
Next, employees were sent a “Return to Work” survey that included four questions built around the CDC guidelines at the time. After the initial few weeks, this was then adjusted to three questions to further boost efficiency. If an employee answered yes to any of the questions about symptoms, he or she was asked to not come into work. HR and managers were then alerted with a report of who had responded yes so they could contact employees with next steps. As the year went on, the daily checks were moved to a weekly “Personal Wellness Recertification” survey. Key teams, including Carlex’s Pandemic Oversight Committee, receive reports at 7am each day through SurveyMonkey, letting them know which employees need to be contacted. Carlex also placed a few kiosks at check-in for anyone who had not yet taken the survey.
Securing work sites and a significant ROI
The initial round of surveys, including the Team Member Info Update and the wellness certifications, saw high response rates—as high as 70%, Bill says. The company has collected over 17,000 responses to date. The strong response enabled the company to get up to full capacity quickly and maintain safety procedures in the months that followed.
The efforts have created a more consistent routine of employee communication, strengthening internal messaging and awareness. Bill says that level of internal communication wouldn’t have been possible with a fully in-person check-in process and points to significant savings in time and investment.
“We’d be looking at an hour-and-a-half process each morning, and instead we have a survey that takes 30 seconds a person. We’ve likely saved at least $9,000 in daily overtime costs alone.”
Bill says Carlex is now exploring how to leverage SurveyMonkey in other ways.
“SurveyMonkey has created more efficiency in our return-to-work process and a better means of communication with our team members,” he says. “The ROI has been amazing.”