HR Leaders: Five Employee Wellbeing Trends You Need to Know in 2023

by | Jan 20, 2023

In 2023, now more than ever, employers and senior HR leaders need to be considering the wellbeing issues facing employees and how their organisation can support them. 

This year, things are expected to look much the same as last year. The UK is beginning 2023 on the brink of recession as households and businesses come under intense pressure from the cost-of-living crisis, with inflation at the highest rates since the early 1980s.  

Nuffield Health’s 2022 Healthier Nation Index study revealed one in three adults claims their mental health has got worse in the last year. The same statistic is also true of physical health, with a third of UK adults reporting a decline over the last 12 months. This is set to get worse this year.  

This means that prioritising mental health this year is essential. Not only do employers have a duty of care to look after the welfare of their employees, but also, they’re starting to recognise that proactively looking after their employees’ mental health can contribute to higher productivity and more resilience during these challenging times.  

As we look to what 2023 has in store, we’ve compiled our top five employee wellbeing trends for this year and what forward-thinking organisations will be doing to ensure staff get the support they need in 2023 and beyond.

Prediction #1: Defining a mental health strategy and investing in it will be a top priority even in uncertain times  

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, forward-thinking businesses will elevate and strengthen their mental health strategies in 2023. Apart from anything else, it makes good business sense.

Looking after an employee’s mental health not only makes life better for them, but it also increases the companies’ productivity as people feel happier and more motivated to work and will ultimately define their survival during the recession we face.

Over the last few years, we’ve found that businesses who prefer quick fixes like a one-hour mental health webinar won’t reap the rewards of this investment in the long term. In fact, it’s those that define their mental health strategy and commit to it will have a better return on investment.

This year, we expect that although there is the temptation for some businesses to cut back financially on areas like mental health and wellbeing, most businesses will recognise that investing in this area is still worthwhile. After all, employee wellbeing is delicately intertwined with the businesses’ productivity.

Prediction #2: Building an inclusive company culture will be high up on the agenda for 2023

Company culture is going to be the new buzzword for 2023. That’s because employees who feel closely aligned with their company’s culture are more likely to feel comfortable and happier in the workplace.

Last year, the challenge to maintain company culture has been felt by 52% of HR leaders. The role of the office has irrevocably changed, making it challenging to create and cultivate a vibrant, welcoming, and meaningful work culture.

Multiple factors are driving this, from teams not meeting as often for work or social reasons, to it taking longer for newer staff to settle in, to the loss of longer-serving staff who lived and breathed the company culture.

The question businesses will be asking in 2023 isn’t going to be “should we be remote, in-office or hybrid?”. It will be “how do we inspire the most engagement and connection among our employees?”.

Prediction #3: Companies will be providing more financial wellbeing and support  

Money, and talking about money at work, has long been taboo. Yet, not talking about it can also pose a real threat to businesses.

In 2023, businesses will have an increased responsibility to find ways to help their employees cope with ongoing financial stress and support them in navigating through this challenging time.

The threat to the health of people living in the UK currently posed by the cost-of-living crisis is severe, with surveys from the Royal College of Physicians indicating that over half the population have seen the rising cost of living negatively impact their health.

Potential measures for employers to take might be to make more explicit provisions to guarantee fair and equal pay, offering financial wellbeing workshops, greater pay transparency and pay rises. For those not in a position to offer pay rises, a one-off ‘cost-of-living payment’ might be an option.

Offering enhanced employee assistance programmes to limit the impact of financial concerns on the physical and mental health of the workforce must also be a priority in the coming year.

Prediction #4: Committing to diversity, equity and inclusion will be key for employee wellbeing 

Last December, Gallup’s research found that employees who reported feeling discriminated against in the previous 12 months were more than twice as likely to report high levels of burnout.

In fact, Black employees who feel strongly that they have the same opportunities for advancement as other employees are 55% less likely to report feeling burnt out on a regular basis, researchers said.

This suggests that there is a key link between DEI and mental health that often isn’t talked about. When employees feel as though they aren’t accepted for who they are at work, or bias stops them from getting the opportunities they feel they deserve, it’s no surprise that they may feel demoralised and burn out.

In 2023, certain industries like Tech and Law which appear to have an increased risk factor for burnout need to be thinking about how they can ensure their workplaces are supporting diverse talent so that they can thrive, from offering EAPs specific to their background to mentoring.

Prediction #5: 2023 will see renewed investment in manager L&D 

According to People Management, the vast majority (96 per cent) of HR and learning and development (L&D) professionals predict a surge in staff training budgets next year, new research has found.

We predict that this could include mental health training. Following the publication of the WHO’s Mental Health at Work Guidelines last year, they strongly recommend mental health training for managers as a way to mitigate the risk of burnout.

Training managers to have open conversations about mental health and wellbeing is proven to be an effective and pre-emptive way to intercept mental health issues at an early stage, before employees get to the burnout stage and their mental health takes a turn for the worse.

Providing line manager training on watching out for wellbeing red flags and how to have sensitive, productive conversations with their team is a great investment in 2023 to ensure that all team members have someone they can turn to, and any wellbeing issues are being spotted and supported early.

“With the cost-of-living crisis at the top of everyone’s minds and the knock-on effects such as increased financial strain, companies simply can’t risk not prioritising the mental health of their employees this year.” – Ngozi Weller

Supporting your employees’ mental health isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. Businesses are beginning to realise that a pool table in the staff room or a one-hour mental health webinar isn’t enough to tackle the root problems of poor mental health at work. In 2023, investing in your employees is going to be essential if you want to weather the oncoming storms this year will bring.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you address any employee wellbeing concerns such as employee burnout, stress-related complaints and absences, or unexplained low productivity, book a consult call here and the Aurora team can support your company’s employee wellbeing plans.

Aurora Wellness is a mental health and wellbeing consultancy that helps organisations increase employee resilience and productivity; reduce chronic stress, burnout and absenteeism, through mental wellbeing and productivity training, coaching, & strategic frameworks. Previous clients include the London School of Economics (LSE), Imperial College London, Allianz, Michael Page, Page Executive, Matillion, Cochlear, North Sea Transition Authority, and North East London NHS Foundation Trust. 

At Aurora Wellness, we are all about mental wellbeing & productivity. To discover holistic solutions to empower your people and maximise their full potential, contact us to find out more. – Ngozi Weller

How much is it costing your business to have disengaged employees?

It is estimated that disengaged employees are costing the UK economy £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.

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