Managing risks for workforce and business resilience 

New research shows the greatest likelihood and impact of 25 workforce-related threats facing employers worldwide according to human resource (HR) professionals and risk managers.

It’s never been more urgent to tackle people-related risk. The pandemic left many companies exposed and vulnerable around their people. Understanding and evaluating these exposures is a core priority for business leaders.
Marie-Josee Le Blanc

Partner and Health Innovation Leader at Mercer Marsh Benefits Canada.

The 25-people risks framework

The People Risks report found the following 5 top risks for the following 5 categories:

Health and safety
1. Workforce exhaustion
2. Deteriorating mental health
3. Communicable health conditions
4. Work-related illness or injury
5. Non-communicable health conditions

Governance and financial
1. Increasing health risk protection and well-being benefit costs
2. Pension financial risks
3. Legal and compliance
4. Benefit decision-making and accountability
5. Administration and fiduciary

Accelerated digitization
1. Cybersecurity
2. Data privacy
3. Skills obsolescence
4. Misalignment of human resources (HR) and business strategy
5. Obsolescent HR technologies

Environmental and social
1. Environment
2. Diversity, equity and inclusion
3. Labour and employee relations
4. Catastrophic personal life events
5. Social unrest

Talent practices
1. Talent attraction, retention and engagement
2. Succession and key person risk
3. Conduct and culture
4.Changing nature of work
5. Travel and mobility
People-related exposures, such as health and safety, governance and digitization have been rapidly rising up risk registers and are gaining increased board attention. In part, this trend has been accelerated as the pandemic clearly showed that threats to the health and well-being of the workforce threaten the overall resilience and success of a business.

Building business resilience by mitigating people-related risks 

By hearing first hand from 1,381 HR and risk managers worldwide, including 125 in Canada to get their views, we learned which people risks will have the most severe impacts, and the barriers preventing firms from mitigating them.
  • Top threats facing organizations

    Cybersecurity, talent attraction, retention and engagement, data privacy and workforce exhaustion are the top people-related risks facing workforces today, according to HR and risk managers.
  • Building a risk analysis framework

    The 25-people risks framework can help HR and risk management teams articulate in board-level conversations the consequences of not acting now to manage these exposures.
  • Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) meets benefits and reward strategies

    The pandemic has put workers’ physical, mental, social and financial health in the spotlight, highlighting exposures which can be managed using a risk management framework approach.
  • Understanding the barriers

    HR and risk managers alike said the biggest difficulty in managing people-related risks was that their organization lacked skilled resources to understand and address them.
  • A shared responsibility

    We asked HR and risk managers who had ultimate responsibility for 25 people-related exposures. Critical to this is building on the trust established between risk and human resource functions so they work together to manage people risks.
  • A new approach

    Solutions and practical tips towards mitigating people risk and becoming more resilient.

About the survey

The Managing the People Side of Risk survey was conducted over March and April 2021 with 1,381 respondents across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and Africa, North America, Pacific and the United Kingdom.

There was a split of 46% HR and 54% risk professionals and, with participation across a wide range of industries. The respondents also represented a cross-section of employer sizes.

Survey respondents were asked to assess the likelihood of the risk occurring in their organization in the next three years on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing a risk that is not very likely and 5 a risk that is very likely to occur. They also assessed severity of each risk’s impact on the business if it were to occur on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing no impact and 5 a catastrophic impact.

The risk rating score was calculated as a product of the likelihood and severity of the risk occurring.

Respondents were also asked to assess to what extent their organization is currently addressing the risk on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing not at all and 5 to a great extent.

Related solutions
Related insights