A wide-ranging report into the UK’s health-and-safety landscape has been published by Make UK (the manufacturers’ organisation) and Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing (part of Hyperion Insurance Group).
Entitled Health, wealth and wellbeing for manufacturers, it reveals that against 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.”
The last official numbers from the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed 141 million days lost to sickness absence in 2018, and over 17 million working days lost to mental-health-related conditions.
Across the whole of the UK economy, sickness absence costs companies £15 billion 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.
Tim Thomas, Make UK’s director of labour market and skills policy (www.makeuk.org
) said: “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 include career development and flexible working pathways in order to retain staff, and there is now clear evidence that productivity will improve as a result.”
"However, there is still a lot more to be done, and manufacturers must continue 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 with the pressures of new immigration rules post-Brexit, skilled workers have never been more important.”
Howden divisional director Mark Fosh added (www.howdengroup.co.uk
): “Coupled with a more general workplace wellness trend, manufacturers are investing in their health and wellbeing agendas, in a bid to build and maintain a healthy workforce and reduce absenteeism.
"This is clearly sending positive ripples across the sector. Manufacturers should now look to optimise the investments they are already making through seeking practical guidance on how best to manage their health and wellbeing strategies.”