Although over 60% of manufacturing organisations carry out a physical risk intervention, less than 15% currently assess risks to mental health, according to research published by Westfield Health and manufacturers’ organisation, EEF, and carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES).
The Unlocking employee productivity: The role of health and wellbeing in manufacturing report also found that improving mental health at work can boost productivity by up to 10%, and that 70 million working days are lost each year due to mental illness. It found that individuals who are supported psychologically are more capable of handling increased demands.
However, of those respondents that invest in employee wellbeing, only 2% do so to support employees with mental health problems. More prominent reasons include improving employee engagement (32%) and reducing sickness absence (29%).
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Improving productivity was recognised as an important reason to invest in employee wellbeing by 80% of respondents, but only 8% saw it as the most important reason.
Steve Jackson, director of health, safety and sustainability at EEF, said: “More and more [organisations] are recognising the benefits and opportunities of promoting the wider wellbeing of their employees. This can bring significant benefit to [organisations] with employees who are better motivated and engaged. Giving employees support and a positive psychosocial work environment has a proven impact on productivity and means that employees embrace the challenges and demands of work with more energy and commitment.”
Richard Holmes, director of wellbeing at Westfield Health, added: “Workplace-related stress, illnesses and mental health issues are becoming a bigger concern than ever. When workers’ minds aren’t completely on the job it can potentially lead to costly mistakes, accidents and health and safety risks. When [employers] believe in the physical and emotional wellbeing of staff, it can completely transform the face of [a] business, improve productivity and create a positive working environment. But it needs to start from the top down, business leaders need to create a culture where people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised.”
Stephen Bevan, head of HR research development at the IES, said: “This 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.”