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HR benchmarking survey shows struggling manufacturing sector
August 18, 2004
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U.K -- HR departments in manufacturing organizations are struggling with low training budgets and high levels of collective redundancy, while low voluntary staff turnover reflects a sluggish employment market, according to new joint research by Consult GEE and Incomes Data Services (IDS).

The Consult GEE/IDS HR Benchmarking Survey also shows high levels of absence in the public sector, much of it stress-related, confirming recent CIPD findings.

The survey of 365 UK organizations, focusing on labor turnover, absence and training, provides key data against which HR specialists can benchmark their organization’s performance and practices.

Main findings

The downturn in the manufacturing sector is clearly reflected, with 30 per cent of organizations in this sector reporting collective redundancies, compared to a cross-sector average of 15 percent. The average training spent per employee in 2003 was £285 compared to a cross-sector average of £427, and manufacturing organizations were most likely to report reduced training budgets for 2004. Lack of job security is reflected in a voluntary staff turnover figure of just 6.6 per cent, against a cross-sector average of 11.8 per cent.

Absence rates

Just four in 10 organizations have a formal target for reducing absence. Despite significantly higher absence levels in public sector organizations (10.7 days compared to an average of 8.4), they are 25 percent more likely than average to have such a target. Absence typically costs an organization £727 for each employee in 2003.
Over half of organizations with more than 5,000 employees report stress as a major cause of absence, compared to an average of just 7 percent. The public sector cites stress as a major cause in 22 percent of cases, three times the average cross-sector figure.


On average, training budgets are up for 2004 compared with the previous year, with 30 percent of organizations reporting higher budgets. Organizations typically offered four days’ training per employee in 2003.

The average staff turnover rate in 2003 is 16.5 per cent for all leavers. For voluntary leavers only (excluding retirements, redundancies and dismissals) the average rate is 11.8 per cent.

“While the downturn in the manufacturing sector has reduced the training budgets of many organisations, employers should take a closer look at how increasing the skills of their employees can improve productivity,” says Jenny Blackwell, Consult GEE Editor. “In addition, employees are taking more stress claims to tribunals than ever before, so it is vital that organisations monitor absence, and analyse the causes.”

“The figures clearly show that the manufacturing sector is less buoyant than the rest of the economy, with lower staff turnover and lower training budgets,” says Nicola Allison, contract research manager at IDS.

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