Wellbeing support boosts productivity, survey finds

Almost a quarter of UK manufacturing companies that have invested in workforce wellbeing since the onset of the pandemic have seen productivity increases, according to a new survey.

The survey by the manufacturers' trade organisation Make UK found that more than half of companies had increased their spending on health and wellbeing to support staff over the past two years, with only five per cent cutting expenditure.A third of respondents reported now spending between £10,000 and £50,000 on health and wellbeing annually, with 23 per cent recording productivity increases. Additionally, 21 per cent found absenteeism decreased and 16 per cent increased staff retention.Verity Davidge, director of policy at Make UK, said: “There is a clear message from manufacturers that they realise a healthy and happy workforce is an effective one. Employers have recognised that the last year has been very difficult for employees and managers have gone that extra mile to help their staff cope. “Wellbeing is clearly becoming properly embedded as a working priority for UK manufacturers and those who are doing this well are seeing the benefits to their companies too – keeping their staff for longer, higher productivity and fewer days lost of absence.”Make UK's report said that manufacturers have increasingly realised that to retain a skilled workforce, they must not only provide good working facilities, but also concentrate on employees' mental health and wellbeing.
The report pointed out that manufacturers were asked to remain open by the government throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but that many staff had to switch to home-working almost overnight, with office workers most often handed hastily purchased laptops, leaving little time for instruction."Remote monitoring of equipment for engineers also became commonplace, placing a new and very isolating burden on a large number of staff who had never worked away from their colleagues before," said Make UK."To keep up morale, 27 per cent of companies surveyed said it was a priority for them to put on regular events for their people throughout last year to maintain a sense of togetherness and keep up team spirit."Some 46 per cent of manufacturers also said they made regular calls to all their employees to promote wellbeing and in an attempt to detect anyone struggling to cope with the new working environment. Four out of ten firms making such contact used video calls so that face-to-face contact  could be maintained and the personal touch not entirely removed."The growing emphasis on mental health issues was also highlighted by the fact that more than a quarter of companies now have a board director responsible for wellbeing and 22 per cent a senior manager dedicated to the role," added Make UK."Some 57 per cent of companies offered staff bespoke mental health support, while 35 per cent had in-house specialist mental health services on offer. Engagement with staff is also on the up, with 31 per cent of companies putting on regular wellbeing support calls for staff."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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