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Manufacturing investing in workforce health and wellbeing – Make UK/Howden report

Make UK/Howden report

 13th January 2020

The Make UK Health and Wellbeing report, in association with Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, highlights manufacturers’ core commitment to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of their workers.

The last official numbers from the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed 141million days lost to sickness absence in 2018, and over 17million working days lost to mental health related conditions. Across the whole of the UK economy, sickness absence costs companies £15billion a year.

Wellbeing is sitting at the heart of manufacturing businesses and is increasingly seen as a core objective for companies.

Over 60% of manufacturing companies already provide workplace adjustments including flexible working for those returning to work after a period of sickness absence, while 52% have put in place a professional Occupational Health service to support staff on their journey back to work. To that end, 85% of firms see it as their duty to encourage and promote physical and mental health wellbeing in the workplace.

With an alarming backdrop of ever-increasing skills shortages, rapid technological change and an ageing workforce, manufacturers are investing more than ever before in their employees’ health and wellbeing. Counselling, health-screening and mental health first aiders are the norm in factories across the UK with modern and flexible working opportunities sitting at the heart of British industry.

This investment in people has brought with it a boost in productivity for 90% of manufacturers along with improvements in workforce relations. Manufacturing companies also saw a reduction in absenteeism alongside a strengthening of staff retention as a return for wellbeing spend on staff. These findings are revealed in a wide-ranging report into the UK’s health & safety landscape published today by Make UK, entitled report “Health, wealth and wellbeing for Manufacturers”. We have listed some of the main key findings below.

Key findings:

• Wellbeing is now part of the core commitment of manufacturers to their staff – 85% see it as their duty to encourage and promote physical and mental wellbeing

• Over 90% of companies investing in employee health and wellbeing have seen workforce productivity increase and an improvement in workforce relations

• 90% of manufacturers are investing in professional occupational health (OH) services, including counselling, health screening and mental-health first aiders

• All manufacturers are investing hard-cash in health and wellbeing to some extent, with the largest companies investing the most – over £30,000 annually

• Manufacturers are ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting workers returning after sickness – over 60% already offer flexible working arrangements and around half professional Occupational Health support

• With 90% of manufacturers having workers who are sick, long-term – over 80% are providing voluntary sick pay, and another 80% easing the way back into work with phased and flexible working

• Make UK is also today publishing a Health and Wellbeing step-by-step guide for manufacturers outlining how to implement cross-sector best practice, Working well, working better

There is, however, no reason to think that the manufacturer’s job is done. The workplace pressures of digital change, an ageing population and increasing demands of workers all remain, and manufacturers will need to continue to up their game and tailor their initiatives to their employees’ everevolving needs if the sector is to win the race to retain and successfully train a new generation of skilled workers to power our sector into the future.

Tim Thomas, Make UK’s director of Labour Market and Skills Policy said: “There is a clear message from manufacturers that they realise a healthy and happy workforce is an effective one. Employers have also recognised that jobs within their businesses should be flexible and include career development and flexible working pathways in order that they retain staff. And in doing so, there is now clear evidence that productivity will improve as a result.

“But there is still a lot more to be done and manufacturers must continue to work hard to put health and wellbeing at the heart of their business plans. With 10% of the manufacturing workforce due to retire in the next three years and the pressures of new immigration rules post-Brexit, skilled workers have never been more important. “

It’s clear from the report that manufacturers are investing in a number of different tools to support health and wellbeing, including employee assistance programmes and line manager training. Pleasingly, nearly half (43%) spend between £5,000 and £20,000 on wellbeing services, implying that these initiatives are clearly on manufacturers’ agendas. However, as highlighted by Make UK, too many manufacturers lack structure and strategy in their approach to health and wellbeing.

Mark Fosh, Divisional Director of Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, added: “Coupled with a more general workplace wellness trend, manufacturers are investing in their health and wellbeing agendas, in a bid to build and maintain a healthy workforce and reduce absenteeism. This is clearly sending positive ripples across the sector. Manufacturers should now look to optimise the investments they are already making through seeking practical guidance on how best to manage their health and wellbeing strategies.”

This is where we can help you to optimise the investment you are already making. We can provide you with the practical guidance to develop and manage a heallth and wellbeing strategy that responds to the needs of your workforce.

We have over 20 years experience in working with companies from all sectors as well as developing and delivering Health and Wellbeing programmes such as our Leading Well Programme,  specifically designed with leadership and management teams in mind.

Contact us today to discuss a bespoke solution for your business or check out our upcoming workshops