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New HR benchmarking survey reflects downturn in manufacturing sector

HR departments in manufacturing organisations 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 organisations, focusing on labour turnover, absence and training, provides key data against which HR specialists can benchmark their organisation’s performance and practices.

Main findings

The downturn in the manufacturing sector is clearly reflected, with 30 per cent of organisations in this sector reporting collective redundancies, compared to a cross-sector average of 15 per cent. The average training spend per employee in 2003 was £285 compared to a cross-sector average of £427, and manufacturing organisations 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 organisations have a formal target for reducing absence. Despite significantly higher absence levels in public sector organisations (10.7 days compared to an average of 8.4), they are 25 per cent more likely than average to have such a target. Absence typically cost an organisation £727 for each employee in 2003.
Over half of organisations with more than 5,000 employees report stress as a major cause of absence, compared to an average of just 7 per cent. The public sector cites stress as a major cause in 22 per cent of cases, three times the average cross-sector figure.


On average, training budgets are up for 2004 compared with the previous year, with 30 per cent of organisations reporting higher budgets. Organisations 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,” comments 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.”

Nicola Allison, contract research manager at IDS, adds: “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.”

The report is available from CHA on 020 7622 8252.

Notes to editors
1. The complete results of the Consult GEE/IDS HR Benchmarking Survey are available as an interactive search tool to subscribers of Series one of the research focuses on the areas of absence, labour turnover and training, and allows companies to benchmark themselves against other organisations of a similar size, geographical region, or business sector. A summary report of the results is available from CHA.
2. Consult GEE is an online information service which provides legal expertise on all company issues across a wide range of subject areas. Consult GEE is accessed via the web and includes 24-hour telephone advice lines. Consult GEE is provided by Sweet and Maxwell, a Thomson business.
3. Incomes Data Services (IDS) is a leading, independent research organisation which provides accurate and timely information which can be put to practical use by all those involved in determining pay, benefits and related employment policies in Britain.
4. The Thomson Corporation (, with 2003 revenues of $7.6 billion, is a global leader in providing integrated information solutions to business and professional customers. Thomson provides value-added information, software tools and applications to more than 20 million users in the fields of law, tax, accounting, financial services, higher education, reference information, corporate training and assessment, scientific research and healthcare. With operational headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Thomson has approximately 39,000 employees and provides services in approximately 130 countries. The Corporation's common shares are listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC).


Consult GEE: Jenny Blackwell, editor – 020 7393 7623.
IDS: Nicola Alison, contract research manager – 020 7250 3434

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Tungtree Communications (formerly Cha PR) in the following categories: Education & Human Resources, Public Sector, Third Sector & Legal, Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy, for more information visit