Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Manufacturing Companies

Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Manufacturing Companies
Workforce Resilience

04 of 10

This insight is part 04 of 10 in this Collection.

November 20, 2023 8 mins

Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Manufacturing Companies

Using Data to Close Workforce Gaps in Manufacturing Companies Hero Banner

Our research shows three workforce challenges specific to manufacturing companies. Addressing these is critical to future success.

Key Takeaways
  1. Manufacturing is falling behind other industries in promoting a sense of belonging and purpose among employees.
  2. The industry struggles with prioritizing the physical and mental health of its workforce.
  3. Employee financial wellbeing is a greater challenge in manufacturing than in other industries.

Every industry has its own human capital challenges unique to its specific circumstances. Analyzing data from three Aon research programs, we identified sector-specific resilience risks that are facing organizations today.

Our research shows that the three most pressing workforce challenges for the manufacturing sector are improving the physical, mental and financial wellbeing of its people and building a sense of belonging. How can companies tackle these big issues? With the right data and expert advice, organizations will be well positioned to make better decisions. Below are recommended actions to take to improve each area.

  • 3,000

    We analyzed holistic HR data from over 3,000 organizations around the world.

    Workforce Resilience Diagnostic Insights

  • 1,700

    1,700 organizations completed a workforce resilience risk assessment.

    2022 Aon Workforce Resilience Risk Benchmark

  • 1,300

    1,300 organizations told us their workforce wellbeing priorities.

    2022-23 Aon Global Wellbeing Survey

Improving a Sense of Belonging and Shared Purpose

Mitigating the risks associated with not fostering a sense of belonging in the manufacturing industry begins with progressive and inclusive leadership. This involves promoting a leadership style that values diversity, actively listens to employees' concerns and encourages open dialogue. Leaders should create an inclusive work environment where all employees feel valued and respected regardless of their background or position.

The development of a workforce skills framework will also encourage a shared purpose and belonging among employees. This is a structure that allows organizations identify, develop and acquire the skills needed for the workforce of the future. As manufacturing companies increasingly rely on new technologies, such as automation and artificial intelligence, they are competing across industries for talent. A robust skills framework will help attract and retain the talent they need and provide ample reskilling and upskilling opportunities for existing employees.


Sixty percent of manufacturing companies feel they can create a “good” or “very good” sense of belonging for their employees.

Source: Aon’s workforce resilience research

Prioritizing Mental Health and Wellbeing

While 60 percent of manufacturing companies identify mental health as a top workforce challenge, only 40 percent have their wellbeing programs (which often include mental health support) integrated with HR strategies. This gap means manufacturing companies need to spend more time refining their employee wellbeing program and ensuring it’s integrated holistically with other HR programs.

Improving mental health includes targeting microstresses that occur in the workplace to prevent burnout and providing easy access to mental health services. For example, our 2022 Health Survey found 47 percent of employees in the United States live in areas with limited access to mental health services. With mental health an acute concern among manufacturing companies, employers should focus on ensuring increased access within their healthcare plans.

Aon partnered with a multinational manufacturing firm to provide reskilling. Employees are invited to complete an assessment that provides a report highlighting the top three best matches between their own interests and those identified as a future skill for the company. It also offers development action suggestions and ideas to acquire new skills. From there, employees can join one of the 30 reskilling routes the firm has researched, sourced and funded.


Only 40 percent of manufacturing companies have wellbeing programs fully integrated with their business and HR strategies.

Source: Aon’s workforce resilience research

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Manufacturing firms haven't always had a history of focusing on employees' mental health, but I'm seeing that change dramatically. Mental health is being destigmatized and seen as a business imperative as much as a talent one.

Joakim Lundberg
Associate Partner and Manufacturing Vertical Lead, Human Capital Solutions, North America

Improving Organizational Financial Wellbeing

With financial stress also a top concern, manufacturing companies should focus on ways to optimize their people spend, specifically for the programs and efforts that have the biggest impact. Our workforce resilience data and analytics highlight four main actions to consider:

  1. Review people spend - Analyze funds allocated to various personnel-related expenses, including salaries, benefits and training to identify areas of costs savings or areas for investment.
  2. Assess location strategy - Make informed decisions around location strategy by evaluating transportation and infrastructure, labor pool availability, and proximity to suppliers and target markets.
  3. Optimize the workforce - Along with developing and implementing a skills framework, other actions to optimize the workforce — such as enabling employees to routinely gain exposure to new technologies and ways of working through programs like job rotations — will prepare businesses and their people for future demands.
  4. Evaluate leadership spend - Allocate resources to provide competitive salaries, fair compensation structures and performance-based incentives. These actions demonstrate a commitment to leadership, set the tone for fair pay systems throughout the organization and hold leaders accountable for strategic goals.


Thirty percent of manufacturing companies report financial risk and stress as a top wellbeing challenge for their employees.

Source: Aon’s workforce resilience research

Ready to get started? Download our Measuring Workforce Resilience for Better Business Outcomes Guide or get in touch with one of our manufacturing experts to discuss how to help your organization improve workforce resilience.

General Disclaimer

This document is not intended to address any specific situation or to provide legal, regulatory, financial, or other advice. While care has been taken in the production of this document, Aon does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the document or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way by any person who may rely on it. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. This document has been compiled using information available to us up to its date of publication and is subject to any qualifications made in the document.

Terms of Use

The contents herein may not be reproduced, reused, reprinted or redistributed without the expressed written consent of Aon, unless otherwise authorized by Aon. To use information contained herein, please write to our team.

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