Businesses are failing to identify ‘blind spot’ people risks new findings show 

Companies risk increased costs placing undue pressure on productivity and profitability 

London, 28 September 2022 – In analysis of its global study of 2,594 HR and Risk professionals, the Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) 2022 People Risk Survey indicates that UK companies risk increased costs, leading to pressure on productivity and profitability, if they neglect to address ‘blind spot’ people risks.

'People Risk' can be categorised as the risk of loss resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems or from external events in the context of operational risk. MMB’s data identifies Cybersecurity and data privacy; Administration and fiduciary; and Pandemics and other communicable health conditions as the top three people risks identified by HR and Risk professionals. However, further analysis of MMB’s data shows that many companies are overlooking significant people risk ‘blind spots’.

“The cost-of-living crisis is dominating the political agenda and has rapidly become a pressing problem for employers. It presents a whole new set of people risks to organisations, including those still grappling with the impacts of COVID-19,” said Nick McMenemy, Partner and MMB Consulting Leader UK&I.

“While people risk is becoming a more important agenda item for leaders, its importance is diminished in our survey findings. In our analysis, people risk is still not high enough on the board agenda; there is a lack of alignment on what the most important people risk issues are; and businesses fail to identify ‘blind spots’ issues that can prove to be detrimental in the long term.”

As an example, MMB’s data identifies the people risk associated with cybersecurity and data privacy as the number one threat for many organisations. However, due to a lack of strategic planning, there is often little that HR can do to mitigate the risks and influence how to address cyber risks.

“This is because cybersecurity and data privacy are often seen as the remit of the Chief Information Officer or IT Manager, not HR,” said Mr McMenemy. “This is despite the fact that every hack or data breach involves a human element — and therefore needs some type of HR response.”

MMB’s analysis identifies five areas of people risk that have a low priority among HR and Risk professionals, despite posing a significant threat.

“More than half of employers believe we are entering a more unstable period of employee relations — driven by falling wages, a cost-of-living crisis and a tight labour market,” said Mr McMenemy. “The great resignation is also affecting leaders as well as general staff and the impact on the business is greater when a key person leaves than when an entry-level employee resigns. An added threat comes from an expected rise in merger and acquisitions, which can affect business continuity.

“Our research shows the eight in 10 employees have experienced burnout. High stress levels can lead to increased staff absences due to sickness, lower productivity and worsening mental health. In turn, this adds to the workload of other employees.

“Most organisations are spending more to address these and other challenges, but they cannot keep throwing money at the problem — particularly as economic issues place budgets under scrutiny. Organisations should be looking at multi-year, multi-pronged cost containment strategies instead.”

One of the most glaring vulnerabilities the report found was that fewer than three in 10 (28%) companies can confidently say they have a competitive employee value proposition, including reward practices, in place. This omission can only become more significant going forward, given the current pressures on pay.

As the cost-of-living crisis becomes more of a threat and the war for talent continues, MMB’s People Risk Report suggests organisations should adopt a more comprehensive approach to people risks. This involves recognising the interconnectivity of people risks and more work across teams to tackle problems more effectively.

“These risks are interconnected,” added Mr McMenemy. “Making it vital for all elements of the business to work together, from HR and Risk Management teams, to use data to create plans and policies to guard against the next big risk event, which may be just over the horizon.”


About Mercer Marsh Benefits

Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) was born out of the unification of one of the world’s most respected HR consultancies, the global leader in people risk advisory and the number one disruptive benefits technology firm to form one unique business. Together they have shaped some of the world’s most loved employee benefit experiences for small companies, growing enterprises and global firms. MMB is 7,000 strong, on the ground in 73 countries, and servicing clients in more than 150 countries. It brings local expertise to more places and works side-by-side with clients, and Mercer and Marsh colleagues around the world. Mercer and Marsh are two businesses of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), together with Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman. The Company’s 81,000 colleagues advise clients in more than 130 countries. With annual revenue of approximately $20 billion, through its market-leading companies Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Marsh McLennan

Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC) is the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. The Company’s 83,000 colleagues advise clients in 130 countries. With annual revenue of approximately $20 billion, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading businesses. Marsh provides data-driven risk advisory services and insurance solutions to commercial and consumer clients. Guy Carpenter develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging opportunities. Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations redefine the world of work, reshape retirement and investment outcomes, and unlock health and well being for a changing workforce. Oliver Wyman serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more information, visit, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter or subscribe to BRINK.