The scarcity of talent in the UK is one of the biggest issues affecting UK manufacturers, but come July the scarcity of employees on the shop floor may seem like a more immediately pressing matter.
The Olympics won’t just affect businesses in the South East, every employer in the country should be thinking about how they will manage employee absence during this period, and how they are going to ensure that productivity is not compromised. We haven’t seen many of our manufacturing clients preparing for this yet, but at the very least employers should be developing a strategy for managing employee absence.
Are many manufacturers recruiting extra staff to allow for greater workforce flexibility during this period? (as opposed to simply for capacity increase)
It is too early to take on contract workers for the summer period, so manufacturers haven’t been recruiting extra employees yet. However, taking on additional staff to allow for peaks and troughs in the workforce during this period is recommended and employers should be ring-fencing budget for short term recruitment during this period.
How would JAM recommend manufacturers mitigate against absenteeism or low performance during the Olympics?
We recommend that businesses are clear on their standpoint from the outset. Drawing a short, one page ‘Olympics Policy’, which makes clear what the company’s rules with regards issues such as whether to pay employees who are volunteering at the Olympics (there is no imperative to do this) and what the company’s approach to investigating suspicious absences may be is a good idea. As a minimum, employees should be encouraged to submit requests for annual leave now, and manufacturing employers should make it clear that this is on a first come first served basis. Sanctions for those who take unauthorised absence should also be laid out clearly.
If the nature of your business allows it, it may be worth managing shift working in such a way that those who have expressed an interest in the Olympics will be able to watch the most significant games. An employer who does its best to accommodate the wishes of their employees is more likely to be able to have control of the situation, meaning they can lessen unauthorised absence and simultaneously boost employee morale.
If it looks like large numbers of your employees are likely to wish to take annual leave during the Olympics, it may be worth investigating bringing in temporary contract workers in in order to ensure that this does not affect productivity. At the very least, it is worth liaising with a specialist recruitment consultancy for your sector who may be able to discuss the options available to you during this period.
If manufacturers have no plans in place now is it too late?
Manufacturers are in a difficult position. Like most employers, they can expect to see a surge in absenteeism during the summer, but unlike most employers, the skills they need are hard to find and come and premium, so finding the right employees to maintain productivity levels won’t be easy.
Unfortunately, absenteeism during the Olympics is likely to be highly unpredictable. While employers can legislate for those who have requested time off during the summer, how can they possibly predict how many employees are likely to quietly ‘throw sickies’ during the most important games? The key to ensuring these uncontrollable absences don’t have a negative effect on your business is forward planning by ensuring you have a strategy and budget in place that will help you to mitigate the effects of absenteeism.
What are the potential risks of failing to plan sufficiently?
The most significant risk is loss of productivity. Many manufacturers are already stretched so if large swathes of employees are off in one condensed period, meeting the demands of your order book will be even more difficult. Key to managing this is identifying what your plan of action is if employee absence becomes an issue.
A secondary risk is around employee relations. Managing the effect of the furore surrounding national events well can be a coup for businesses, giving them the chance to show their employees that they’re highly valued and fortunate enough to be working for a very accommodating company.
Manage it badly and an otherwise well-meaning employer will be quickly labelled a Scrooge.
This is a press release from JAM; specialists in Engineering and Manufacturing Recruitment.
For more information visit: http://www.jamrecruitment.co.uk/
JAM Recruitment Limited
Marsland Road, Sale
Zip: M33 3AQ
Tel: 0161 235 0328