63% of HR leaders highlight mental health and well-being as their biggest priority amid the cost of living crisis

A new report by HR and payroll software providers, Natural HR highlights the trends, challenges and priorities facing the HR profession in 2023.

In 2022, employee health and well-being topped the list of priorities as companies continued to be measured by how they treated their people post Covid-19. Fortunately, given the cost of living problem and the effects it will have throughout 2023, this is still a top priority. In 2023, mental health and well-being will be the top priority, according to 63% of HR experts.

Many have chosen to bolster their existing Employee Assistance Programmes by adopting initiatives to improve health and well-being, such as offering benefits packages that include mental health days and free counselling. Others are prioritising recruitment and training of mental health first aiders, while increased flexible working has also supported employee wellbeing. In 2023, this is still a top priority as organisations find ways to further support staff amid fresh pressures such as the cost of living.

In the past two years alone, well-being has expanded beyond physical well-being to build a culture of holistic well-being, including physical, emotional, financial, social, career, community, and purpose. At the heart of this is the growing need for flexibility in where, when, and how employees work.

17% of HR leaders feel undervalued

Last year, when asked about how HR is valued within the business, 17% of leaders said they feel undervalued. Worryingly, this figure has not changed. Some reasons that respondents gave for feeling undervalued were:

‘HR seems to be an afterthought’

“HR seems to be an afterthought, only usually appreciated when things go wrong. It is kind of invisible in the background. Everyone expects everything to work, but they don’t really notice us doing the work or appreciate it. Not enough support is given to the HR function, and the importance and the value added by HR isn’t understood.

What are the challenges of HR?

When asked what challenges they feel they will face in 2023, the top response was retention and recruitment, with 55% of HR leaders citing it as an issue.

It’s no secret that many businesses have been experiencing difficulties in relation to widespread talent shortages. This has had a significant impact on business in general, as well as applying pressure on HR teams to fill positions.

Whilst the impact varies from industry to industry, staff turnover has been widely reported as the biggest issue rising to 63% from 56% in 2022, followed by the need to use more agency or temporary staff (41%) to cover the loss in productivity.

And whilst retention and recruitment are priorities in 2023, it may come as no surprise that employee engagement remains one of the top challenges. Last year, 32% of HR professionals cited this as an issue, and this has increased to 38% this year.

Inefficiencies and admin remain a widespread challenge for HR leaders

Inefficiencies and admin also remained a widespread challenge for HR professionals in 2023, although this dropped to 35%, compared to 42% last year.

Whilst COVID restrictions and ever-changing guidance are no longer an issue, it’s clear that HR continues to struggle with administrative and process-related problems due to the hybrid nature of work. As employees split their time between the office and home, HR still finds it difficult to manage important processes like onboarding and offboarding staff, learning and development, and employee engagement.

In response to the research, a spokesperson from Natural HR said, “What is clear from this research is that the desire of HR leaders across the nation to support, empower and engage their people is at an all-time high.”

“This year’s cohort seems to be taking every positive from 2022 and running with these into 2023. Despite one of the most challenging years many HR leaders will ever face, they are making the best out of the cost of living crisis and doing everything they can do to ensure the well-being, happiness, and morale of their people.”=


This piece was written and provided by Natural HR 

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