The rapid changes brought about in the working conditions of employees due to the pandemic have exposed gaps in the ability of organisations to respond to risks associated with their workforces.
A new report ‘Turning people risk into a business opportunity’ by Mercer Marsh Benefits has said the main barriers to addressing these issues were a lack of senior leadership engagement and a lack of skilled resources to understand and address the exposures.
The report categorised 25 people risks into five main categories of people risks:
- Health and safety
- Governance and financial
- Accelerated digitisation
- Talent practices
- Environmental and social
Globally, cyber security was ranked as the top people-related risk. However, mental health deterioration was the top risk issue for UK respondents, reflecting the considerable progress made in recognising and destigmatising mental health issues.
The report said health has become a top focus for many firms as the world deals with the effects of a pandemic but the understanding of wellbeing has changed and there is a wider societal expectation that aspects such as social, mental and professional wellness (belonging, success, progression and connections at work) are also a priority.
The latter can be a real differentiator for organisations that create environments and structures where employees feel valued in a role, understand how they can make a difference and where routes to progression are clearly explained.
Diversity, equity and inclusion was found to be the fourth highest people-related risk, highlighting the focus from many firms in getting this right on the back of ongoing world events that have put the spotlight on race and gender inequity.
Interestingly, communicable health conditions were not considered a top ten risk in the UK despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While globally HR and risk departments were fully aligned on cyber and talent as the top two risks, HR respondents identified succession and key person risk as the third most important; a threat that did not appear in the top 10 for risk managers.
The global survey conducted a year after the declaration of the pandemic included over 1,300 HR and risk management professionals. M