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A spotlight on... Employee Wellbeing & Mental Health in the Manufacturing Industry

4 July 2024

In 2023, the UK manufacturing industry's ranking for output volumes went from 9th to 8th place globally. Manufacturing accounts for 49% of UK exports and contributes £224 billion to the UK’s GVA (Gross Added Value). It’s a success story! Let's consider, though, that the manufacturing industry is the third sector most impacted by labour shortages. How does this affect the 2.6 million people working within the UK manufacturing sector? Let’s dig a little deeper and see, but please be aware that this blog covers mental health and references topics some readers may find upsetting.

The Story Beyond the Wins

The numbers above paint an impressive picture - a thriving industry. With 2.6 million employees, the manufacturing industry is the UK’s 7th largest employer (House of Commons Library). Average salaries in the sector range from just over £21,000 to well over £80,000, depending on role and region. 

The average UK salary in 2024 is just over £29,000. With the salary range in the manufacturing industry starting below the average for many and the cost of living remaining high, financial struggles are prevalent.

During our Men’s Health Podcast, Dr Tim Bray explained that those on a lower income are more at risk of suffering from poor mental health.

Here are three essential things to note:

  • The male-to-female employee split in the manufacturing industry is 62.75% vs 37.25%.
  • In 2022, there were 67% more suicides in men than women.
  • Men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women.

It may not surprise you to learn that those within the manufacturing sector are more likely to struggle with substance abuse, suicide and other serious mental health concerns (Forbes).

Pace and Demands

The manufacturing industry is all about output and operates at a very fast pace. Essentially, it’s about churn. It’s a supply of products, and consistency is crucial for output and GVA to remain high.

One chink in the chain has a knock-on effect, and many in the sector fear restructuring and layoffs (Forbes).

Employees in the manufacturing industry feel pressure to keep up with a set pace, making their jobs physically and emotionally demanding. Life on the production line can also be monotonous - the same activities day in and day out - which can negatively impact feelings of personal value.

The result = Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

The Role of Shift Work

Business News Wales shared research showing that employers in the manufacturing industry are taking employee wellbeing and mental health seriously. Their research found that employee mental health issues cause 40% of long-term absences, negatively impacting output and revenue.

It’s unsurprising that 48.6% of the companies surveyed have substantially increased their investment in employee wellbeing initiatives.

An employee wellbeing and engagement strategy must also be in place for this investment to yield a return.

Many manufacturing businesses operate 24/7, 365 days a year, to maintain their output and meet demand, meaning shift patterns cover nights and weekends. With employees at work at various times, providing consistent communication and raising awareness can be challenging.


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Steps to Enhance Employee Wellbeing

The communication piece is essential, but it all starts with culture.

Here’s how you can nurture a culture of employee wellbeing:

  • Encourage employees to use their breaks.
  • Build wellbeing activities into their day.
  • Ensure awareness and educational materials are accessible to all.
  • Upskill managers to be empathetic and lead by example.
  • Train Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) to be their colleagues' first line of support.

A cultural shift is crucial in enhancing employee wellbeing in your manufacturing business. Discover more in our blog - Workplace Wellbeing Activities Your Employees Need in Their Lives.

We’ve focused on men so far, as they make up the majority of the manufacturing workforce and are statistically more likely to be impacted by mental health issues.

Let’s step back and consider what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Women will have many of the same stresses as the men in their workplaces, with extra complications thrown in, like menopause.

During our podcast - Breaking Down the Barriers to Affordable Mental Health Support - Pat Garland-Smith talks about the lack of menopause support when she needed it. “It just wasn’t talked about,” she told us, which is often the case when women are surrounded by men in the workplace.

Empathy is essential, but your managers and HR representatives don’t need to become qualified counsellors. They just need to be able to guide their colleagues towards help.

EAP… the Backbone of Your Employee Wellbeing Strategy

An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) gives employees everything they need to improve their mental health.

When you partner with Pluxee UK for EAP, you give your people access to:   

  • 24/7 crisis support at the touch of a button.
  • Our EAP App with an abundance of tools and resources.
  • Dedicated menopause support service.
  • BACP-accredited counsellors - a call or email away.
  • Self-help plans and actions.
  • Private counselling sessions.

What does all this mean?

For your people, it means a measurable improvement in their mental health, making them happier, healthier, and more productive.

For your business, it means a significant increase in employee wellbeing, a more engaged workforce, and less absenteeism. Those with money worries, changing home lives, and addictions can seek the help they need from the comfort of their homes and in confidence.

No embarrassment. No stigma. No judgement.

For every £1 spent on enhancing employee mental health, you can expect a £5 return.

Here’s some further reading on how EAP can enhance employee wellbeing:

Our employee engagement consultants have shared previous conversations with employers in the manufacturing industry who have said, "I employ mainly men. Why do I need EAP?”

We know why… and after reading this blog. So will they.

Take the first steps towards prioritising employee wellbeing and mental health in your business by arranging a call today.

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Your Sustainable People Strategy Awaits!

Your business is unique and so are your employee wellbeing needs. Discover a versatile and cost-effective strategy.


Is EAP the only solution for enhancing employee wellbeing? It isn’t. Employee wellbeing incorporates mental, physical, and financial health. These two blogs will help set you on the right path:

Surely a pay rise is better for employee wellbeing than any benefit I can offer? Not necessarily. The power of a pay raise can be short-lived, and it doesn’t address the root of the problem. Our blog - The Evolution and Growing Importance of Employee Wellbeing, brings this concept to life.

What if I embed EAP into my business and nobody uses it? For EAP to enhance employee wellbeing, your people must engage with it. This goes back to culture, leading by example, and effective communication.




House of Commons Library


Business News Wales