Only 37 per cent of Australia’s manufacturing businesses are taking measures that boost profit, productivity and market share, University of Melbourne research released today by the Centre for Workplace Leadership has found.

The initial report is based on a national survey of 1,000 manufacturing businesses with 5-199 employees. Primary findings are:

  • Low demand in the Australian marketplace and Australia’s uncertain financial future are the two greatest challenges facing manufacturing businesses, followed by the cost of doing business.
  • Manufacturing businesses are finding it very difficult to recruit staff with developed skills in the area.
  • Professor Peter Gahan, Director of the Centre for Workplace Leadership, said the findings showed significant room for improvement.

“Whether the business has five employees or is a 500 person operation, the basic principles are essentially the same for getting outcomes and developing high performance work practices,” said Professor Gahan.

According to best practice, there are three key ingredients to business success: developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of employees; motivating employees and rewarding their efforts and providing employees with opportunities to contribute to their workplace and input into how their work is done.

“Our research found that a minority of Australia’s manufacturing businesses are implementing all of these measures,” Professor Gahan said.

The findings, released in Adelaide today to mark the commencement of Australian wide manufacturing forums, makes several recommendations to business managers:

  • Training and development opportunities should be encouraged by business managers.
  • Payment and rewards for employees should be based on employee performance.
  • Employee input should be sought in order to improve practises and seek innovation