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94% employees agree their company is actively trying to provide more flexible work arrangements: UKG

  • 84% of manufacturing employees (32% strongly agree, 52% agree) acknowledge that there are two separate cultures in their company: one for frontline workers and one for everyone else

  • Among manufacturing organisations, 77% (38% strongly agree, 39% agree) find it more challenging to fill frontline manager roles compared to non-manager roles

  • A significant 94% of manufacturing employees (51% strongly agree, 43% agree) affirm that their company is actively trying to provide more flexible work arrangements for frontline workers

  • 69% of Indian manufacturing employees (31% strongly agree, 38% agree) feel that their organisation is not doing enough to take advantage of mobile technology to support the frontline employee experience.

  • The report was launched at the latest UKG LIVE event.

94% of manufacturing employees agree that their company is actively trying to provide more flexible work arrangements for frontline workers; Survey conducted by UKG

Amidst the dynamic contours of the Indian manufacturing sector, a notable majority of organisations are taking proactive strides to embrace flexibility, ushering in a new era of improved working conditions for their frontline workforce. A new study by UKG, a leading provider of HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people explores topics ranging from the prioritisation of employee wellness to the transformative impact of digitalisation on revenue and productivity. Additionally, it addresses pressing concerns such as cybersecurity in the era of digital transformation, the evolving role of artificial intelligence in manufacturing, and the strategic focus on building a skilled talent pipeline within the Indian manufacturing landscape.

The study surveyed 314 HR leaders in India-based manufacturing organisations to gauge the impact of labour supply, labour laws, and compliance on operations. The survey covered diverse industries, with manufacturing at 43%, and food processing and pharmaceutical/life sciences each at 28%.

Impact of labour laws and compliance on manufacturing organisations operating in India

In the fiscal year 2019-20, amid the peak of the pandemic, the Indian Parliament enacted four new labour codes. These codes consolidated a network of 29 central labour laws and encompassed the Code on Wages, 2019; the Industrial Relations Code, 2020; the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020; and the Code on Social Security, 2020. Despite this, certain states are still in the process of formulating and publishing rules to implement these codes, given that labour is a subject falling under the jurisdictions of both the central government and individual states.

Moreover, an overwhelming 96% of organisations find their state's current labour laws and regulations effective in fostering a favourable working environment for the manufacturing industry. Regarding year-over-year changes in compliance costs in the past 12 months, 75% of organisations noted shifts, with 50% reporting a moderate increase and 25% indicating a significant increase.

The survey included manufacturing organisations from different Indian states, with the breakdown as follows: Andhra Pradesh (10%), Bihar (11%), Gujarat (14%), Haryana (10%), Karnataka (15%), Maharashtra (32%), Tamil Nadu (15%), Telangana (6%), Uttar Pradesh (13%), West Bengal (7%), and Other (3%).

To what extent are organisations prioritising the frontline employee experience? (and is it enough?)

In India, the study reveals that 52% of Indian manufacturing organisations have adopted flexible scheduling practices, empowering employees with the autonomy to set shift availability, swap shifts, or extend working hours. Other key offerings include 51% prioritising employee well-being through wellness programs, 49% extending financial wellness benefits such as earned-wage access and same-day pay, 39% utilising an employee communications mobile app, 34% offering hybrid or remote-work options, and 34% emphasising predictable work schedules. Additionally, 27% provide paid time off, and 44% offer training and development opportunities.

Commenting on the survey, Sumeet Doshi, Country Manager at UKG India, said, “As we navigate the intricate landscape of Indian manufacturing, our survey unfolds a narrative of progress and people-centric innovation. A compelling 52% of manufacturing organisations have embraced flexible scheduling practices, underscoring our commitment to empowering frontline workers. This not only provides them with autonomy over their work hours but also signifies a pivotal step towards a more agile and employee-focused industry. Furthermore, the resounding 96% endorsement of the effectiveness of state labour laws in fostering a positive working environment amplifies the collaborative spirit driving the manufacturing sector's success.”

Synergising human potential with technological innovation in manufacturing

69% of Indian manufacturing employees (31% strongly agree, 38% agree) feel that their organisation is not doing enough to take advantage of mobile technology to support the frontline employee experience.

Presently, 10% of Indian manufacturing organisations leverage the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for optimising workforce scheduling. In contrast, 38% of these organisations rely on digital tools to enhance their scheduling processes. Furthermore, 41% of Indian manufacturing entities harness electronic tools for workforce scheduling. On the other hand, 11% still adhere to manual processes for scheduling.

Ashok Saxena, VP Engineering at UKG India, noted, “The data clearly reveals the considerable untapped potential for incorporating technology into the Indian manufacturing sector. While a mere 10% currently embrace the efficiency of Artificial Intelligence for workforce scheduling, there's a significant 38% leveraging digital tools. Simultaneously, the feedback from our workforce is paramount, with 69% expressing a desire for more emphasis on mobile technology to enhance the frontline employee experience. This underscores the pivotal role of technology, urging organisations to not only embrace AI but also prioritise the integration of mobile solutions for a more connected and empowered workforce. The future of manufacturing lies in the seamless synergy of human potential and technological innovation.”

Crucial priorities for manufacturers over the next 12 months

Over the upcoming year, 47% of manufacturers are placing a high priority on employee well-being and safety, while 41% are emphasising cybersecurity, and 40% are directing their attention towards digital transformation. Additional priorities encompass recruitment (32%), retention (23%), Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) initiatives (39%), sustainability efforts (39%), fortifying supply chain resilience (35%), exploring AI and generative AI (35%), nurturing a positive workplace culture (32%), and preparing for resiliency and disaster scenarios (27%).

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