Manufacturing employers increase spend on health & wellbeing

April 8, 2024

Almost half of UK manufacturing employers have increased spending on workforce health and wellbeing – and it’s having a positive impact.

From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.

Figures from the last year have revealed 45% of companies have increased their investment in wellbeing initiatives, 49% have maintained the level of investment and the amount companies are investing per person has also increased – with 33% now investing more than £100 per employee.

Surveys by Make UK also revealed UK companies have seen an improvement in staff retention as a result.

The average days lost to absence fell to 4.7 in 2023 compared to 5.6 in 2022.

Jamie Cater, Senior Employment Policy Manager at Make UK, said it showed an increased investment in wellbeing can directly reduce absence and retain staff. He said: “While manufacturers still face a challenging environment – ongoing shortages of technical skills, rising employment costs and an ageing workforce – recruitment and retention pressures have eased in the last few months.


Increasing productivity 

The figures were collected in two surveys published by Make UK on Sickness Absence and Labour Turnover across manufacturing.

It showed the main cause of long-term absence is physical health (81%) while long-term mental health is the cause of a third of absence.

Four in ten companies who increased their investment in health and wellbeing saw staff retention rise and absence fall by a quarter – while 18% reported increased productivity.

Welfare initiatives such as employee assistance programmes were the most popular measure offered by companies, followed by counselling services and other therapies.

Other measures provided by companies to improve workforce satisfaction and reduce absence included free eye tests and health screening, private medical insurance, free flu vaccinations, advice on healthy eating and lifestyles, alongside gym subsidies.

The Labour Turnover survey revealed that, after reaching a historically high level in 2022, turnover in manufacturing reduced significantly in 2023, down from 20% to 16% – the lowest since 2018.

But Make UK said despite a lower number of live vacancies in the manufacturing sector, shorter recruitment lead times, and fewer barriers to successful recruitment – the industry still has significant challenges.

Seeking higher pay and opportunities for progression remain the most popular reasons for staff leaving manufacturing businesses – and nearly half of employers have seen staff leave due to retirement in the last twelve months.

Our Comment

These survey results illustrate the benefits of investing in employee well-being initiatives as not only being the right thing to do ethically, but also makes good business sense. By prioritizing employee well-being, organizations can create a positive and supportive work environment that benefits both employees and the organization as a whole.



At William Martin, we bring unparalleled health & safety expertise and powerful technology to the table. Whatever your sector and wherever you are, we give you the support you need to keep compliant, strong, and successful.

This content has been produced in association with our sister company, Barbour.

For all enquiries, please contact us or call our team on 0203 819 8829.

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