Is mental health the new ‘bad back’? Five things to consider when employing people (2023)

people shaking hands

Employing people is hard.

I admit that – and I’m a HR professional.

Based on the conversations I’m having with clients (and what I’m reading in the HR business press), there are some common themes I’m seeing at the moment. 

Some are challenges. Others are opportunities. 

Here are five things to consider for people managers, business owners and HR directors going into 2023.

Let’s get started.

1. Mental Health

man has head in hands while his team look on
Mental health is often termed ‘the new bad back’ – as it’s difficult to prove. 

Managers lack the confidence to have conversations about mental health and there is still a stigma around it.  

We’re all tired – including our people. This can cause people to behave in ways they wouldn’t usually. If you allow an environment to grow that lets people take the mick, they will.

But to support people, you shouldn’t create policies to stop the few who take advantage. And you shouldn’t pitch your communication to your worst offenders. Instead, pitch it to the best performers.

Why? Because people are genuinely having a hard time at the moment. Everyone is struggling in one way or another. People are exhausted and uncertainty is stressful.  

When Covid hit, nobody knew what was going to happen. Now everyone is looking towards winter wondering how they will manage their money – bringing even more uncertainty. 

So What can you do about it?

  • Create an open culture where staff feel confident to share ideas and make mistakes.
  • Have strong policies (for when you need them)
  • Focus on building a good culture and teamwork (so you don’t need them).

When people are bought into the business, they want the best for it. But they only do that if you treat them properly. 

Often, a staff member’s experience at work is a direct result of their relationship with their manager. So train your managers to have much-needed conversations with staff around mental health and train them to look for the signs someone is struggling.

Don’t know the signs? Or worry your managers don’t? I help businesses with this.

Email me now to find out more (

2. The cost of living

money on table
We’re all feeling the pinch.

Business owners and managers don’t just have their own increasing costs to worry about – they must think about how their employees are coping too.

Failing to show this empathy is a quick way to cause your staff to seek employment elsewhere. 

There are no shortages of jobs, after all.

And depending on how much you pay your staff, you could be competing with a whole range of sectors People are looking at different avenues if they pay more. Why? Because they must.

Wages are probably your biggest running cost. Can you afford to increase wages by 10% in line with inflation? Probably not. Not many could. Even if you can, it eats into your profits.

What’s the other option? Giving out bonuses? They’re notoriously tricky to get right. For example, if you give a ‘cost of living bonus’, should someone living with their parents get the same as the breadwinner of a family of four? 

These are questions your staff may have. Which means they’re questions you must consider. It’s these moral dilemmas I help my clients solve. 

For example, there are some excellent benefit platforms that give people discounts with certain retailers. Breakfast clubs are proving popular. By making them available to everyone, you reduce stigma while creating opportunities for people to eat together and get to know each other on a personal level – something crucial for your business’ success.

3. Finding and retaining talent

group of people sitting and smiling
Nurturing a great company culture is your job.

This is a case of push and pull:

  • Pull good employees towards you.
  • Don’t push good employees away.

How do you stop people from considering alternative career paths or competitors?

Throwing money at them works in the short-term, yes, but it’s not sustainable and it doesn’t engage people long-term.

The answer? It’s all about culture!  

You spend a lot of time working and it’s important you enjoy it. 

Happy workers are more productive. 

If people like coming to work, they will:

  • Take less unplanned time off 
  • Work harder
  • Be your best recruitment tool

Not sure where to start with building your company culture? 

Email me now – – and take advantage of a FREE 30-minute people strategy session.

4. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Lots of different people symbolised in a drawing
Look at EDI as an opportunity – not a task.

This is huge at the moment.

Gone are the days of delivering EDI using a checklist. You need to have an EDI agenda in your overall business strategy.

  • A team from the same background with similar experiences and opinions will come up with the same solutions (which you don’t want).
  • A diverse team will come from different angles and be more creative (which you absolutely need).

If you shift your mindset and see EDI as a solution (not a management task), your business will benefit.

It needs to be embedded into your culture and reflected in your leadership style.

5. Getting more for less

people sat in a circle with their hands outstretched
Happy teams = productive teams.

Want your team to be more productive?

Of course you do.

So think about your company culture. 

I know I’ve said this before, but that’s because it’s so important. 

Getting it right means your staff are happier, less likely to leave, and so you recruit less.

Growing a high-performing team is a skill. And is something I can help you with.

Don’t tolerate poor behaviours. Your worst people drive away your best ones. 

You can’t complacently accept mediocracy.

See, the key here is psychological safety. Your staff need to feel safe and secure at work.

If these basic needs aren’t met, they have no headspace to go above and beyond (or be creative).

This isn’t about being nice, it’s about creating a safe environment for:

  • People to speak up
  • Highlight improvement
  • Be themselves
  • Think creatively
  • Be creative with their ideas

Need any help with any of the above?

Email me now at for a FREE people strategy session. 

What happens during this session?

We’ll look at what’s happening now, where you’d like to go, and plan some steps to get you there. 

If you need my support with anything going forward from there, we can discuss that on the day too. 

Email me now to find a good time to chat.


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