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January 2020 comment for PWE

30 April, 2020

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 that we have published with Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing.

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. 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. 

Wellbeing is sitting at the heart of manufacturing businesses and is increasingly seen as a core objective for companies. To that end, 85% of firms see it as their duty to encourage and promote physical and mental health wellbeing in the workplace.

As such there is now 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.

By Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of Make UK

First published in Drives & Controls' sister publication, Plant & Works Engineering: www.pwemag.co.uk




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