While stress in the workplace is not new, workers in the manufacturing industry face unprecedented levels of strain. In a 2022 Industrial Athlete Workforce Report that reached more than 600 active workers in the manufacturing, construction, warehousing, and transport industries, 47% reported being “stressed at their current jobs,” and 32% said they were “too tired to engage with friends and family as a result of their jobs.”
While some stress is inevitable, wellness programs for manufacturing companies have been found to help reduce employee stress and burnout and promote a healthier work-life balance.
The Impact of Stress in the Manufacturing Industry
High stress levels in the manufacturing industry have been linked to increased absenteeism and presenteeism in workers. Turnover rates in manufacturing have also skyrocketed in recent years.
According to Quantum Workplace, while voluntary employee turnover remained steady between 2018 and 2020, resulting in an average turnover rate of 19%, a jump in voluntary turnover in 2021 reached nearly 30%.
While everyone handles stress differently, stress’s impact on manufacturing employees cannot be overstated. Employees who experience high rates of workplace stress may experience a wide range of side effects, such as:
- Low employee engagement
- Lack of productivity and focus
- Poor employee performance
- Increased tardiness or absences
- Tense company culture
- More frequent illnesses and injuries
Stress in the manufacturing industry can affect both physical and mental health. A ComPsych StressPulse Report showed that 62% of respondents have high levels of stress that result in extreme fatigue and feelings of not having control.
Unique Stressors in Manufacturing
Understanding what factors contribute to employee stress can help employers determine how to reduce stress and create a better work-life balance. Some stressors that employees in the manufacturing industry encounter include:
1. Job Insecurity
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread insecurity across the job market, and many industries have yet to recover fully. In today’s unstable financial climate, job insecurity is critical for many employees, and the possibility of losing one’s job is causing justifiable stress.
2. High Demands
Manufacturing can be demanding, often requiring workers to meet large production quotas. Employees who face such quotas often experience daily stress, especially when goals are set too high or unrealistic.
3. Irregular Shifts
With the demand for goods delivered promptly is constantly growing, the manufacturing industry must work around the clock to keep pace. Employees are often required to work irregular or prolonged hours, which can significantly impact their health and well-being.
4. Poor Ergonomics
Working conditions play a key role in how well employees manage stress. Jobs in the manufacturing sector are often physically demanding, which can be hard on the body over time.
5. Lack of Development
Development opportunities are not always easy to come by in the manufacturing industry. Employees want to know that they are valued and strive to progress in their roles. Many manufacturing jobs can feel routine, stifling their personal and professional development.
Link Between Stress and Productivity
Stress not only has a direct impact on a worker’s health and well-being but also their productivity. Feelings of being overwhelmed with work duties can make it difficult to perform effectively and meet important deadlines. Stress can also cause a person’s energy to dwindle, leaving them with little motivation to do their best work.
Workplace stress can also result in a lack of focus. Employees who are not focused are more likely to make mistakes, costing the company money. Stress can also cause adverse side effects, such as chronic headaches, irritability, fatigue, and depression. A decline in health can contribute to a loss of productivity in the workplace.
Designing Effective Wellness Programs for Manufacturing Companies
Wellness programs have the explicit goal of helping participants maintain or improve their well-being through proper diet, stress management, exercise, and illness prevention.
One of the most significant advantages of adopting wellness programs for manufacturing companies is to help people develop healthy habits that result in lower health risks and reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases.
Designing an effective wellness program involves a series of essential steps:
- Identify the key goals of the wellness program.
- Determine what activities will support these goals.
- Choose the company’s level of program involvement.
- Establish the company’s budget.
- Create program rules and guidelines.
- Select employee incentives and rewards.
- Communicate the program to employees.
- Regularly evaluate the program for improvements.
- Assess the program’s return on investment (ROI).
Tailoring Wellness Programs to Manufacturing Needs
Motivating employees to participate in a company wellness program can be a worthwhile investment for businesses in the manufacturing industry. However, it is important to customize wellness programs to meet the unique needs of workers.
Start by conducting a company-wide survey to gain valuable insight into what employees want in health and wellness benefits. Companies will often find shared interests among workforces.
It can also be advantageous to undergo a health risk appraisal (HRA) that involves hiring health providers to perform voluntary and non-invasive tests on employees to determine wellness, such as blood pressure, glucose levels, and BMI assessments.
Manufacturing companies should also consider ways to make wellness more convenient for workers. This can be achieved in several ways, such as making walking paths accessible for employees during breaks, adding games to the breakroom, setting up a fitness center in the building, or providing free access to employee wellness technology for manufacturers, such as fitness apps.
Business Case for Investing in Wellness Programs
Well-developed wellness programs can help educate employees on how to make healthy choices that support productivity and motivate employees to succeed.
According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, a study was conducted where employees were surveyed before and after implementing a wellness program. The results showed that 97% of the test population experienced an improved or stabilized BMI. In addition, 77% improved or stabilized their blood pressure.
Investing in a wellness program can also:
- Improve employee performance and productivity. Employees who value their health are likely to perform their best on the job.
- Enhance employee satisfaction and company culture. Companies that put their employees’ health first often support a positive company culture and experience greater employee satisfaction.
- Lower healthcare costs and absenteeism. Wellness programs can result in significant savings as employees are more likely to practice preventative care, resulting in fewer sick days.
- Develop a positive reputation and brand image. Companies that invest in their employees’ well-being are more likely to attract top talent due to a positive brand image and reputation in the manufacturing industry.
Stress Management Strategies in Manufacturing Wellness Programs
Employees who work in the manufacturing industry are accustomed to fast-paced work environments. However, these environments can often lead to stress over time, decreased productivity, and possible health problems.
Implementing effective stress management strategies as part of a comprehensive manufacturing wellness program can help employees achieve greater health and well-being. Start by encouraging open communication across the company.
Employees should feel comfortable discussing what work-related stressors they are experiencing. Providing workers with access to an anonymous feedback system allows them to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of retribution.
Companies should also provide employees with proper training and resources to help minimize stress. Seminars, workshops, and similar learning methods can help employees learn the best ways to perform their duties without experiencing undue stress or contributing to burnout. Businesses should also consider providing employees with access to mental health services.
Incorporating Stress Reduction Techniques
Workplace stress has been linked to many conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. Businesses can do their part to help reduce employee stress by promoting effective stress-reduction techniques, such as the following:
- Encourage regular breaks. Employees require regular breaks to remain active, clear their minds, and enjoy quiet time to practice mindfulness or meditate.
- Create comfortable work environments. Poor work environments can contribute to chronic pain. Aim to create more comfortable work environments, such as providing office workers with ergonomic chairs.
- Promote physical fitness. Employees who remain active are better equipped to manage stress. Encourage workers to walk during lunch breaks, offer discounts on gym memberships, and provide access to healthy snacks in the breakroom.
- Offer flexible scheduling. Modern workers want to know that their employers trust them to do a great job, regardless of work hours. Consider providing employees with greater flexibility in their schedules.
Promoting Work-Life Balance
Many employees in the manufacturing industry struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Employers can help workers better manage their personal and professional lives by offering flexible or remote work opportunities.
In addition to remote or hybrid work arrangements, businesses should also reconsider time off. Force employees to take time off during the year by limiting how many days they can carry over.
There are also other ways businesses can help employees promote a healthier work-life balance, such as by providing parents with additional support. Consider offering enhanced maternity and paternity benefits and flexibility for parents needing time off to cater to their children’s needs.
Contact New City and Revitalize Your Wellness Program
Manufacturing companies can reap the many rewards of implementing a wellness program when they take the time to address the specific needs of their workforce and align these needs with the business’s core values.
Working with an experienced benefits consultant such as New City is the best way to address stress management in the workplace. For assistance revitalizing your wellness program, reach out to New City Insurance at 888.210.2765.