Nearly half of manufacturing employees plan to leave their jobs, survey finds

A total of 44 per cent of manufacturing sector employees are planning to leave their roles within the next two years, research from Zellis has found.


With a combination of Brexit, the pandemic, labour shortages, and skills gaps bringing disruption to the UK&I manufacturing sector, organisations are having to focus on attracting talent, retaining existing employees and safeguarding against poor motivation. Zellis’ research shows that pay and benefits make up the most significant motivational factor, with 46 per cent of respondents stating an increased salary or bonus would provide much-needed motivation. 

Training and development opportunities are also seen as key motivating factors, with 31 per cent of respondents citing it as a key factor in feeling positive and motivated by their work. Despite 71 per cent of respondents viewing training and development as important to them in their work life, 35 per cent of respondents felt they weren’t getting the quality of training and development that they expect.  

Beyond engagement, these concerns are having an impact on retention, with 28 per cent of employees saying they would leave their current employer sooner because of poor training and skills development. A lack of recognition or appreciation would prompt such a move in 31 per cent, while 43 per cent would move to a different company to escape inadequate pay and benefits. Just over half (51 per cent) would stay in their current role for longer if offered increased salary or bonus.


“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, an HR and payroll specialist. 

“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.”

Manufacturing employees who responded to the survey also cited workplace culture as an important factor for their motivation and happiness in a role: 23 per cent would value ‘a more supportive work culture’, and 27 per cent want to be more ‘recognised for their achievements’. 38 per cent would leave their current employee sooner if faced with a ‘toxic or unsupportive work culture.’

Zellis said it surveyed a cross-section of the UK and Ireland manufacturing workforce, with 500 employees from a range of manufacturing subsectors responding to questions in July 2023. Access to their findings can be found here.