55% of food manufacturers plan to leave current role within two years

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Manufacturing in UK and Ireland suffers with high turnovers. Credit: Gettymathisworks
Manufacturing in UK and Ireland suffers with high turnovers. Credit: Gettymathisworks

Related tags Business labour shortage Technology & Automation Training & recruitment

Research from Zellis has identified a worrying turnover trend in manufacturing in the UK and Ireland, with a third of employees saying they’re unmotivated by their current job. So what will make them stay...?

Pay, benefits and training will be key factors for manufacturing employers to focus on, as research reveals that almost half (44%) of UK and Ireland employees plan to leave their role in the next two years.

Among those who responded to the survey, 146 worked within the food sector – with 55% stating they plan to depart their business in the same timeframe.

This has most likely been driven by a combination of Brexit, Covid, labour shortages and skills gaps, meaning focus for organisations must not only centre on acquiring new talent, but retaining staff.

“Finding and keeping the right people with the right skills is an ever-present problem in any industry, but particularly within a manufacturing sector which is working hard to compete globally. With this backdrop, our research underlines a potential wave of resignations which might be faced by manufacturing organisations over the next couple of years if key changes are not made quickly,”​ said Rebecca Mullins, director of HCM solutions at Zellis – the firm that undertook the research.

Increase pay, bonuses and benefits key for manufacturers

The HR and payroll specialists survey found that as many as 62% of those working in food and drink would stay longer in their role if they received a salary increase or bonus. While 32% of F&B respondents said better employee benefits would encourage them to remain in their position.

Overall, across manufacturing as a whole, 43% reported that they’d move to a different company to avoid inadequate pay and benefits. Training and development were also regarded as a motivational factor, with 31% stating it was key to feeling positive and driven by their work.

Although more than two-thirds (71%) of respondents viewed training and development as important to them in their work life, 35% said they weren’t getting the quality of training and development that they expect.  

Beyond engagement, these concerns are having a clear impact on retention, with 28% of employees saying they would leave their company because of poor training and skills development. In addition, 31% said a lack of recognition or appreciation would prompt a move.

Commenting on the findings Mullins said: “While this could be seen as a warning sign for the industry, it also highlights the opportunities for organisations that are willing and ready to be flexible and listen to the needs of their employees. In addition to offering competitive pay and benefits, this research shows that manufacturing businesses should focus on investing in training and fostering a supportive work culture to boost their chances of attracting and retaining manufacturing recruits.”

Food and drink workers worrying about AI taking jobs

In food and drink specifically, 29% workers raised a concern that AI might replace their role. And in some cases, it will happen. The food and drink sector has been slowly becoming more and more automated as technology advances and issues such as labour gaps and productivity, along with cost become ever-more prominent.

Looking at the BBC’s ‘Will a robot take your job’ programme, food, drink and tobacco process operatives are high risk, with automation estimated at 82%. However, other roles such as quality assurance and regulatory professionals, and production managers and directors in manufacturing plants come in at only 7% and 3% likely.

What this and general research indicates, is that they’ll be less repetitive roles available, with humans focused more on cognitive-based positions and working in collaboration with robots/AI.

In related news, Young's Seafood factory in Grimsby, Scotland may be closing​ - a move which could see many losing their jobs. 

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1 comment

important read

Posted by Luke Sutton,

Interesting read. Need to keep up to date an all that.

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