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Make UK – A Healthier Manufacturing Workforce

workforce wellbeing

Industry investing in workforce wellbeing with nearly half increasing spending despite difficult economic conditions – Make UK research

Companies saw increased staff retention and decrease in sick days – but mental health issues are top of the problem list

Key findings:

  • In the last year 48.6% of manufacturers increased their spending on health and wellbeing
  • And the majority (58%) of companies are spending between £10k and £50K on staff wellbeing initiatives, up from a third two years ago
  • 40% of businesses saw an increase in staff retention and nearly a quarter (24.6%) had a decrease in sickness days
  • Occupational health services were used primarily for workplace adjustments (67.4%), assessing fitness to work (59.4%) and to access counselling or other mental health support (57.7%)
  • Nearly half of manufacturers are prioritising investment in technology to improve health and safety in the workplace

Over the last year, manufacturers have maintained their health and wellbeing commitment, with spend remaining consistently high. Companies have largely increased their level of investment (48.6%) or kept it at the same level (45.7%) in spite of difficult economic conditions. 

Our latest survey, “A Healthier Manufacturing Workforce – wellbeing and work in UK manufacturing”, reveals that mental health issues are the main driver in sickness absence, with 40% of employers identifying this as the main cause of long-term absence in their business. As a result, more emphasis than ever has been placed on employer investment, with workplace adjustments, access to counselling or other mental health support and health and wellbeing promotion top of the priority list.

Keeping the workforce safe continues to be of critical importance, with Health and Safety investment in technologies a key driver on how manufacturing workplaces are evolving to create safer and healthier factories of the future. Nearly half of companies (44.8%) are investing in safety display screens, 37.4% are increasing their spend on automation while 36% are using smart PPE equipment as part of their new health and safety measures. Manufacturers are also seeing the benefits of software and devices to monitor health and safety risks and performance (24.7%) and they are being increasingly successful in preventing issues and accidents from occurring.

But it is not just employers that are improving. Employee understanding of health and safety importance is increasing too, with more and more workers taking ownership of their own wellbeing by making use of all the incentives on offer (27.4%). There are of course supervisors to enforce health and safety measures on the factory floor, but employees are increasingly working together to look after each other and encouraging colleagues to deal with their own wellbeing and safety, demonstrating a cultural shift.

Health and wellbeing now takes up some 30% of company training budgets, with the issues and benefits firmly embedded at board level. Nearly half (40.8%) of manufacturers train their senior team in health and wellbeing issues, with over half of companies (53.4%) providing bespoke sessions aimed at embedding this thinking in company culture.

Make UK’s primary ask of Government is to extend the scope of tax benefits for businesses investing in occupational health and wellbeing. 

Jamie Cater,  Head of Employment and Skills policy Make UK said: 

“Investment in workforce wellbeing is more than just a perk for employees – at a time when recruitment and retention still pose a challenge for many manufacturers, it is a critical part of improving productivity. Our research showing increasing levels of investment show that the sector understands the benefits of this, but remains on a journey from a culture of simply managing sickness absence to one of actively preventing ill health through a focus on wellbeing. To avoid the risk of more people leaving work due to sickness, the Government needs to act by introducing a long-promised expansion of tax relief on health and wellbeing services”. 

Read the full report here: Wellbeing and work in UK manufacturing report | Make UK

 For more support with improving employee wellbeing training, consultancy or implementing a wellbeing survey, contact 

Winning the Battle for Talent | Make UK

Health & Wellbeing Services | Make UK

Safety Culture | Make UK

About Make UK

Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing, with offices in London, Brussels, every English region and Wales. 

Collectively we represent 20,000 companies of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, across engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector. Everything we do – from providing essential business support and training to championing manufacturing industry in the UK and the EU – is designed to help British manufacturers compete, innovate and grow.

From HR and employment law, health and safety to environmental and productivity improvement, our advice, expertise and influence enables businesses to remain safe, compliant and future-focused. 

Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine | The Home of Manufacturing Industry News

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