​'Employee sharing' eases labor crunch amid COVID-19 outbreak

By Cui Can, Qin Qi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 24, 2020
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Chinese companies have come up with a creative way to optimize human resources during the COVID-19 epidemic. Called "employee sharing," the method lets businesses temporarily hire employees from companies that have yet to resume operations or are only partially operating due to the outbreak. 

A deliveryman collects frozen food at a store of Hema Fresh in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, on Jan. 27, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The initiative was first launched by online supermarket Hema Fresh in early February to meet its increasing demand for workers delivering daily necessities to customers. The method has since been popularized and used by many companies and manufactures to ease the workforce crunch and place workers where they are most needed.

As people in China prepare for a full return to work and school, mask makers are bracing for another surge in domestic demand. To prepare for this, many factories have expanded production, and some firms have pivoted to manufacturing the mask machines. Hua'erte Technology Company, a Hunan-based maker of food and pharmaceutical equipment in Changsha Economic and Technological Development Zone, is one of them.

"Our company used to manufacture food and pharmaceutical equipment, so it's not a big deal to switch the production line to be compatible with manufacturing mask machines," manager Sheng Zhenhua said. Within seven days, Sheng and his team designed a production line that meets the standard for producing face mask machines. 

On March 9, Sheng's new factory opened, and orders poured in. Though mask machines are ready, the difficulty in finding workers prevented him from responding to overwhelming demand. 

After learning about Hua'erte's worker shortage, Qiu Xiongwen, chairman of the labor union in Changsha Economic and Technological Development Zone, contacted another company in the development zone, Ruizhi Automotive Parts. These two companies soon signed an agreement on sharing employees. A team of 43 skilled technicians was then quickly formed and started their work in Sheng's factory on March 13.

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