Talent search

The manufacturing industry has been hit by lots of change in recent years, but Covid-19 caused more widespread uncertainty and stress as workers struggled through the volatility of lockdowns and ever-changing working conditions.

As a result, many workers have left for jobs in other sectors. PWC’s Annual Manufacturing Report highlights the fact that manufacturers are facing the largest shortage of skilled workers in the UK since 1989. The issue has only been exacerbated by Brexit; exports between the UK and EU fell by over 40 per cent in January alone, according to the Office for National Statistics, and further uncertainty seems likely over the coming months.

Despite this, many manufacturing businesses are actually busier than ever. According to a KPMG survey, there are plenty of roles available for workers who want them, with overall vacancies rising to the greatest extent in the survey’s 24-year history, and temporary vacancies are also expanding at the fastest rate since 1997. The problem is encouraging workers back to manufacturing to fill those roles.

There are plenty of reasons for businesses in this industry to be positive, however. For starters, the UK remains one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the world, solving problems that affect all of our daily lives. As a country, we have a proud history in manufacturing, driving the industrial revolution and shaping the modern world, and there’s no reason that manufacturers can’t continue to innovate, nurture talent and thrive.

Careers in manufacturing can be financially rewarding, exciting and diverse. While the manufacturing industry may face ongoing challenges over the coming months and years, there are thankfully plenty of ways that businesses can make a positive difference to their workforce, not least by improving the benefits on offer for their employees.

Supporting employees and boosting workplace wellbeing
The manufacturing industry isn’t afraid of change, and PWC also reports that 94 percent of manufacturers are adjusting their business in new ways to achieve growth. They’re open to new opportunities, considering how best to use technology to increase their efficiency, effectiveness and productivity, and it’s important that they also consider the mental wellbeing of employees.

Workers have already faced considerable disruption over the past 18 months, and Covid-19 has helped to shine a light on the importance of workplace wellbeing. After all, according to research from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, a happy employee is a more productive employee, also proving more creative and suffering from less fatigue, according to a report from nexalearning.

Technology is just one of the ways that businesses can help to boost workplace wellbeing, whether it’s using the latest software to conduct surveys that monitor workplace wellbeing and gather employee feedback, or embracing communication platforms that help workers and line managers to stay connected even when working apart.

Manufacturing businesses can also apply more innovative approaches to financial wellbeing as well. Companies can adopt low-cost or even free fintech technology, for example, providing workers with more flexibility when it comes to accessing the money they’ve earned.

This can make a huge difference when it comes to attracting new workers, with 81 per cent of people taking pay frequency into account when applying for jobs in different sectors, according to a study Hastee conducted recently. Such solutions can also play a key part in retaining current staff, with the same survey finding that 52 per cent of workers are also more likely to continue working in a role that offers flexible pay.

Helping workers to avoid high-cost credit
An ‘Earnings on Demand’ (EoD) payment model is one such flexible solution, providing employees with the opportunity to access a portion of their monthly pay in real-time. This means that even when times are tough, businesses can provide workers with a financial lifeline, helping them to access the pay they’ve earned without having to turn to high-cost credit – something 82 percent of workers relied on in 2020, according to our study.

Businesses are also in a great position to help their workforce when it comes to financial advice and budgeting, with plenty of different options available. nudge, for example, gives users access to financial education and money management tools. Along with Earnings on Demand, such tools can really help workers to take control of their finances, making the decisions that will help their money to go a whole lot further.

With the manufacturing industry becoming ever more competitive, and businesses facing a tough challenge when it comes to attracting the best talent, workplace wellbeing solutions are just one of the ways that can help to bridge the growing skills gap. Not only can such solutions help to attract and retain workers, they can also help when it comes to increasing productivity and creativity, helping manufacturing companies to meet the challenges of Brexit and a post-pandemic world head on.

James Herbert
James Herbert is founder & CSO at Hastee, an award-winning earnings on demand technology, offered as a workplace benefit that enables workers to take a portion of their earned pay, on demand, increasing choice and financial flexibility. It’s an ethical alternative to taking on debt from sources of credit and is designed to stop the cycle of accumulating interest fees facing those borrowing money month to month.