New Paper on Worker Well-being Taking Evidence from the Apparel Industry in Mexico

This paper aimed to identify drivers for worker well-being (such as job satisfaction, worker engagement, and self-assessed work performance) among Mexican apparel factory workers and their association with work outcomes, controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and job-related variables. The researchers hypothesized that job resources and resources in life (which can be provided by employers) contribute to work outcomes and worker well-being, and that the influence of job or life resources on well-being is mediated by work outcomes.

This study sought to reveal the interlink between working conditions, work outcomes and worker well-being among workers in Mexican apparel factories. Our results indicate that job satisfaction and self-reported work performance are positively associated with worker well-being, pointing to a possible direct impact of work outcomes on well-being.

We also found that trust, respect and recognition, in addition to job autonomy, were significant contributors to all examined work outcomes (i.e. job satisfaction, work engagement and work quality), with significant indirect effects on well-being.

Organizational resources reflected by healthy working conditions were found to contribute significantly to work quality and indirectly to worker well-being – via job satisfaction, work quality and work engagement.

Consistent with the fact that level of job demand is a source of significant stress, we found that Mexican workers were susceptible to decreased job satisfaction and lower well-being (indirect effect through job satisfaction and work engagement) due to high workload.

Our study also revealed that workers experiencing work-family conflict and unfavorable physical working conditions might experience depleted well-being, although the effect is indirect and mediated by effects on either work engagement or job satisfaction. Social support from supervisors and co-workers was also likely to indirectly stimulate well-being through impacts on job satisfaction and work engagement. These indirect effects corroborate the important role of perceptions of developmental support from co-workers and supervisory mentors for the promotion of work engagement .

Our study shows that in order to improve working conditions and well-being of workers, specific interventions by both factory management and global brands could be beneficial – recommendations already formulated by Locke, Amengual, and Mangla, among others. Cultivating appreciation of the importance of a worker’s value as a resource and not only perceiving them through the lens of cost is one such example. A second example is allowing greater decision autonomy of workers.  Our findings indicate likely rewards to business from this type of worker empowerment.

Read the full paper.