Unlocking employee productivity: the role of health and wellbeing in manufacturing
Britain’s manufacturers are being urged to look at health and safety as a key strategy to improve the productivity of the workforce. A new study published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Westfield Health and carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies shows that good wellbeing can bring significant benefit to those companies employing lean manufacturing processes, especially if the focus is on good mental health, resilience, autonomy and involvement at work. This can bring productivity improvements of up to 10%.
According to the report, manufacturers to date are continuing to address health and safety in a very traditional way. This leads to a focus on compliance, physical health, risk assessment and promoting good health & safety practice rather than addressing psychosocial and mental health factors which can equally impact on employee performance.
A significant number of companies (80%) do see improving productivity as a reason for investing in wellbeing measures, but just 8% see it as the most important reason for doing so. Furthermore, fewer than a third of companies invest in healthy living programmes for their employees despite evidence showing that employees in good health are up to three times more productive.
The survey also shows that whilst over 60% of companies carry out a physical risk intervention, just 15% currently assess work risk to mental health and only 1 in 5 invest in measures to promote mental health. Furthermore, fewer than a third of companies engage in training managers in managing stress and just 1 in 5 companies are using well-known interventions such mental health first aid training.
According to EEF, the lack of attention to wellbeing and mental issues means that employers are missing out on the potential opportunities and benefits of improving their productivity and performance through good job design, positive mental health and supporting management in maximising the productivity benefits of ‘lean’ and other processes.