UK industry urged to boost investment in workforce wellbeing

Posted on 14 May 2018 by Jonny Williamson

UK’s manufacturers are being urged to grasp the opportunity of greater investment in the wellbeing of their workforce and reap significant rewards of improved productivity and performance, according to new study.

The study and survey, published by EEF and Westfield Health and carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies coincides with the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week.

It shows that the overall mental health and wellbeing of employees is inextricably linked to motivation, engagement and performance in the workplace.

The survey shows that good wellbeing can bring significant benefit to those companies employing lean manufacturing processes, especially if the focus is on good mental health, resilience, autonomy and involvement at work.

According to the study this can bring productivity improvements of up to 10%.

By contrast the study highlights that poor wellbeing can increase costs, reduce motivation and employee engagement and take up management time dealing with issues such as absence and occupational health costs.

Manufacturers address health & safety still in a traditional way

According to the survey, manufacturers to date are continuing to address health and safety in a very traditional way.

This leads to a focus on compliance, physical health, risk assessment and promoting good health and safety practice rather than addressing psychosocial and mental health factors, which can equally impact on employee performance.

A significant number of companies (80%) do see improving productivity as a reason for investing in wellbeing measures, but just 8% see it as the most important reason for doing so.

Furthermore, fewer than a third of companies invest in healthy living programmes for their employees – this is despite evidence showing that employees in good health are up to three times more productive.

The survey also shows that while more than 60% of companies carry out a physical risk intervention, just 15% currently assess work risk to mental health and only 20% invest in measures to promote mental health.

Additionally, fewer than a third of companies engage in training managers in managing stress and just one in five companies are using well-known interventions such mental health first aid (MHFA) training.

Manufacturers are missing out on opportunities

According to EEF, the lack of attention to wellbeing and mental issues means that employers are missing out on potential opportunities and benefits of improving productivity and performance through good job design, positive mental health and supporting management in maximising the productivity benefits of ‘lean’ and other processes.

The study suggests three key areas where employers should focus to maximise the wellbeing of their employees and improve the psychosocial workplace environment:

  1. Job Design – not only preventative in promoting health but employees in jobs that allow control, autonomy and a degree of discretion over what they do tend to be more engaged and productive.
  2. Employee Involvement – research has shown that workplaces with high degrees of employee involvement tend to be more high performing. High levels of work involvement and collective decision making promotes positive mental health, even in pressurised environments.
  3. Employee Engagement – this is both with the organisation and its values, as well as the job itself. There is a strong correlation between high levels of psychological wellbeing at work, high levels of engagement and higher performance and productivity.

Women and Diversity in Manufacturing Summit 2018

Women and Diversity in Manufacturing Summit brings together role models, mentors, recruiters and board-level leaders from across the UK manufacturing landscape – we unpack their stories, share their journeys and focus on the path forward.

The interactive conference format sits delegates alongside speakers in a series of small group conversations, creating a relaxed environment for discussion and enabling everyone to lean in and be a part of the industry’s most important conversation.

When: 21 June 2018

Where: Exhibition Centre Liverpool

Register now!