Manufacturing businesses on trajectory for low levels of employee happiness and bad financial performance

Manufacturing companies in Europe are set to face a workplace crisis from low levels of employee happiness and bad financial performance if the current state of flexible working and collaboration does not improve, according to a recent IDC survey of 1,352 HR professionals and line managers, sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand.

The study found that 23% of manufacturing companies do not permit flexible working, despite 60% of manufacturing respondents saying they are able to do some or all of their tasks on their phone or tablet. Largely due to the nature of work, an average of just 12% of manufacturing employees work some of their hours at home.

Positively though, almost all (93%) of manufacturing respondents said it is acceptable for employees to apply for new positions outside their current department. However, less than half (44%) completely agree that they have career ambitions in their current organisation.

The IDC study found a direct correlation between flexible working and happiness across Europe, so this situation need to be addressed if manufacturing employers want to have happy and engaged employees.
Manufacturing respondents said that other areas which could help employee satisfaction include:

Casual dress in the office
Open plan office spaces
Office coffee corners and discussion spaces
Game areas for a break in the office
Remote working and flexible hours

Spotlight on the UK

Cultural resistance to flexible working is a challenge in the UK particularly, with one in five businesses actively banning it.  While almost three quarters (71%) of UK respondents said they are proud of their workplace and willing to recommend it, IDC stresses this ‘happiness proportion’ is a clear sign that British organisations still must improve in how they motivate and engage managers and HR staff.

Line managers (30%) also report high levels of frustration with HR in terms of its support in stress avoidance (compared to 23% for Europe) and supply of useful talent management system (28% disagreeing versus 24% for Europe).
Improving efficiency is considered a key improvement area for 37% of UK line managers, as well as providing employee performance analytics (35%), suggesting an opportunity for HR to provide strategic guidance on performance as well as a desire for HR to do more with less.
“The findings from the IDC report are sobering and show us that we must continually evaluate and improve our ways of working. If UK businesses want to remain competitive they must ingrain a culture of more collaboration, as well as provide the tools to make this happen wherever that employee may be based. Frequent performance reviews and clear career paths can help here,” explains Vincent Belliveau from Cornerstone On Demand.
“Likewise, it’s vital HR and line managers understand each in order to navigate these changes. There are already frustrations showing whilst the UK is at the early stages of having a fully flexible workforce, and this will only get worse without clearer talent management strategies. Organisations need to invest in the systems and practices that will support this going forward, and must understand the range of flexible work options staff may require. Ignore that, and they face an unhappy and disengaged workforce, which will almost certainly be a bigger problem in the long run.”

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