Workforce wellbeing gives UK industry a productivity boost

Posted on 13 Jan 2020 by Jonny Williamson

More than 90% of the manufacturers investing in employee wellbeing and flexible working have seen a corresponding increase in workforce productivity and staff relations, according to a major new study.

The vast majority (85%) of manufacturing businesses now see it as their duty to encourage and promote physical and mental wellbeing, with almost all (90%) investing in professional occupational health services, including counselling, health screening and mental-health first aiders.

All manufacturers are investing in health and wellbeing to some extent, with the largest companies investing the most – more than £30,000 annually.

Make UK - Wellbeing Spend - Workforce Wellbeing Study Jan 2019

This investment in people has brought with it a boost in productivity for 90% of manufacturers along with improvements in workforce relations and staff retention and a reduction in absenteeism.

Across the whole of the UK economy, sickness absence is thought to cost companies around £15bn a year.

The last official numbers from the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed 141 million days lost to sickness absence in 2018, and more than 17 million working days lost to mental health related conditions.

More than 60% of manufacturing companies already provide workplace adjustments including flexible working arrangements 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.

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

Make UK - Long Term Staff Absenteeism - Workforce Wellbeing Study Jan 2019

These findings are revealed in a wide-ranging report into the UK’s health & safety landscape co-published today by Make UK and Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing.

Tim Thomas, Make UK’s director of Labour Market and Skills Policy commented: “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.”

*Infographics courtesy of Make UK