Industry urged to boost investment in workforce wellbeing to reap productivity rewards – EEF/Westfield Health Survey

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Key findings:

  • 80% of companies see improving productivity as a reason for wellbeing investment
  • Employees in good health are three times more productive
  • Only 15% of companies assess work risk to mental health - just 1 in 5 invest in mental health measures
  • Research shows investment in wellbeing improves motivation and performance

Britain’s manufacturers are being urged to grasp the opportunity of greater investment in the wellbeing of their workforce and reap significant rewards of improved productivity and performance, according to a major survey and study published today.

The study and survey, published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Westfield Health and carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies coincides with the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week. It shows that the overall mental health and wellbeing of employees is inextricably linked to motivation, engagement and performance in the workplace.

In particular, it shows that good wellbeing can bring significant benefit to those companies employing lean manufacturing processes, especially if the focus is on good mental health, resilience, autonomy and involvement at work. According to the study this can bring productivity improvements of up to 10%.

By contrast the study highlights that poor wellbeing can increase costs, reduce motivation and employee engagement and take up management time dealing with issues such as absence and occupational health costs.

Commenting Steve Jackson, Director of Health, Safety & Sustainability at EEF, said:

“More and more companies are recognising the benefits and opportunities of promoting the wider wellbeing of their employees.  This can being significant benefit to companies 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 who embrace the challenges and demands of work with more energy and commitment.”

Director of Wellbeing, Richard Holmes, of 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.

“At Westfield health, we ‘believe in well beings’. When you believe in the physical and emotional wellbeing of your staff it can completely transform the face of your 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 Institute for Employment Studies 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.”

According to the survey, manufacturers to date are continuing to address health and safety in a very traditional way. This leads to a focus on compliance, physical health, risk assessment and promoting good health and safety practice rather than addressing psychosocial and mental health factors, which can equally impact on employee performance.

A significant number of companies (80%) do see improving productivity as a reason for investing in wellbeing measures, but just 8% see it as the most important reason for doing so. Furthermore, fewer than a third of companies invest in healthy living programmes for their employees – this is despite evidence showing that employees in good health are up to three times more productive.

The survey also shows that whilst over 60% of companies carry out a physical risk intervention, just 15% currently assess work risk to mental health and only 1 in 5 invest in measures to promote mental health. Additionally, fewer than a third of companies engage in training managers in managing stress and just 1 in 5 companies are using well-known interventions such mental health first aid (MHFA) training.

According to EEF, the lack of attention to wellbeing and mental issues means that employers are missing out on potential opportunities and benefits of improving productivity and performance through good job design, positive mental health and supporting management in maximising the productivity benefits of ‘lean’ and other processes.

The study suggests three key areas where employers should focus to maximise the wellbeing of their employees and improve the psychosocial workplace environment:

  1. Job Design – Not only preventative in promoting health but employees in jobs that allow control, autonomy and a degree of discretion over what they do tend to be more engaged and productive.
  2. Employee Involvement – Research has shown that workplaces with high degrees of employee involvement tend to be more high performing. High levels of work involvement and collective decision making promotes positive mental health, even in pressurised environments.
  3. Employee Engagement – This is both with the organisation and its values, as well as the job itself. There is a strong correlation between high levels of psychological wellbeing at work, high levels of engagement and higher performance and productivity.

EEF and Westfield Health will be hosting a webinar with the researchers from the Institute for Employment Studies to discuss the findings and their implications for manufacturers on 27 June.

The survey of 141 companies was carried out between January and March 2018.


About EEF

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, is the representative voice of UK manufacturing, with offices in London, Brussels, every English region and Wales. This year we celebrate 120 years of backing Britain’s makers.

Collectively we represent 20,000 companies of all sizes, from start-ups to multinationals, across engineering, manufacturing, technology and the wider industrial sector.

We directly represent over 5,000 businesses who are members of EEF. Everything we do – from providing essential business support and training to championing manufacturing industry in the UK and the EU – is designed to help British manufacturers compete, innovate and grow.

From HR and employment law, health and safety to environmental and productivity improvement, our advice, expertise and influence enables businesses to remain safe, compliant and future-focused.

More information at  

About Westfield Health

Westfield Health are an award winning health and wellbeing provider, committed to helping people put their physical and emotional wellbeing first, at work and at home, by inspiring them to make healthier choices.

Working with 400,000 customers and more than 8,000 companies, Westfield Health has been supporting the nation to live happy, healthy, independent lives since 1919.

Partnering with outstanding organisations, such as Sheffield Hallam University, enables them to develop market leading insight, expertise and technology which are then translated into health and wellbeing strategies; helping people to take control of their physical, mental and emotional health. 

As a not for profit organisation, they’ve donated over £14.5m to the NHS and medically related charities over the last 20 years, supporting the health and wellbeing of communities across the UK.

With workplace health and wellbeing moving up the corporate agenda, more and more businesses now recognise the benefits of taking the best possible care of their most important asset – their staff.

Westfield Health believe in well beings and support people to eat well, move more, sleep better and think clearly.

Find out more at


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