While reading The Manufacturer recently, I came across an article about UK industry being urged to boost investment in workplace wellbeing. Now, I know that here at Croft Filters, we have always invested in our employees. Not just in their ongoing training and development, or our commitment to excellent working practice, but in concern for their overall wellbeing. However, I’m also aware that in the world of manufacturing, wellbeing is still something of a misunderstood concept, and many business owners appear reluctant to take it onboard. But the facts speak for themselves.
WELLBEING BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY
Its reckoned that manufacturers could boost productivity by as much as 10 per cent by investing in better resources to improve their employee’s wellbeing at work, according to a recent study by manufacturers’ organisation EEF and Westfield Health. There’s no doubt that compliance with physical health, risk assessment and health and safety have improved in leaps and bounds over the last fifty years, but there’s still a gap, with manufacturers seemingly hesitant to address the mental health needs of their employees; a low one in five manufacturers report they have invested in measures to improve the mental health of their staff. In the report, more than six in 10 manufacturers reported looking at the physical risks to workers, but only 15 per cent assessed the risk that work could have on mental health. Additionally, while almost 80 per cent of the companies polled saw ‘improving productivity’ as a reason for investing in employee wellbeing, fewer than 8 per cent said it was the most important reason for doing so. And less than a third of manufacturers had a healthy living programme in place for their employees. Additionally, in a sector which is still male -dominated, it’s worth business owners considering that men are being left behind in discussions about emotional health. And while there has been effort recently across the media and in business to increase awareness of mental health issues, an ACAS survey found that only 11% of employees felt that they were able to discuss mental health issues with their line manager, and half of all managers said that they thought they needed more training on dealing with employees’ mental health issues. So, we still have a long way to go in terms of workplace recognition of the importance of these issues. But there are some initial steps you can take to improve the wellbeing of your employees.
GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES AUTONOMY
While there is the necessity to get the work done in a timely fashion while maintaining high standards of production – making the process a positive experience for the employee will see wellbeing levels rise. In practical terms, this could be allowing a degree of autonomy and discretion over what individual employees do and when in terms of their workload. For example, here at Croft Filters, we may have several orders for the same filter in at once. While the overall number of filters for production over a week could add up to several hundred, we leave the decision for the numbers made per batch to the individual. That way, they can work on a batch and then move onto a different task, before returning to do more, so everything is completed by the due date. By breaking down the numbers produced at one sitting, employees enjoy more variety in their work and have the freedom to choose what to do and when.
LISTEN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES
Savvy employers also know that encouraging their teams to have a say in how the work is carried out will result in higher staff engagement and consequently improved levels of production and customer service. After all, it’s your employees who make the difference to your business. Senior management sometimes fails to remember that the employee who is doing the work every day may well come up with an inspired solution to enable it to be done better, quicker.
TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Allowing for transparent two-way communication with your employees results in ‘ownership’ of the business for everyone. By involving staff, listening to their opinions and valuing their contribution, you open the doors for innovation. In a manufacturing business where employees feel heard and appreciated – productivity levels will automatically rise.
Stephen Bevan, head of HR research development at the Institute for Employment Studies, which carried out the survey I referred to at the beginning of this article, said: “The research shows that there is a clear business case for investing in workforce wellbeing. This goes beyond saving money and extends to issues of product quality and customer service too. ” By investing in the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, you can transform your manufacturing business, improve productivity, create a positive work environment and increase staff retention – all of which is good news for business success. Thanks Neil