Mercer Marsh Benefits

The Five Pillars of People Risk - Australia

New research shows the greatest likelihood and impact of 25 workforce-related threats facing employers in Australia and worldwide, according to risk managers and human resource (HR) professionals. While organisations have always faced people-related risks, these have been particularly pronounced during the pandemic.

People-related exposures, such as health and safety, governance and digitisation 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.

“The pandemic has reinforced that employee health, risk protection and wellbeing is a central business risk, worthy of C-Suite attention.”

Sarah Brown
Mercer Marsh Benefits Leader, Pacific

Managing risks for workforce and business resilience

By hearing first hand from risk and HR professionals across Australia, we learned which people-related risks had the most relevant and significant impacts on the business, and the barriers to firms addressing these risks.

Top threats facing organisations

Cybersecurity, talent attraction, retention and engagement, deteriorating mental health and workforce exhaustion are the top people-related risks facing workforces today, according to Australian risk managers and HR professionals.

Building a risk analysis framework

The 25-people risk framework can help risk management and HR teams articulate in board-level conversations the consequences of not acting now to manage these exposures, whilst creating context for cross-organisational discussions on top risks and the priorities and opportunities those risks bring.

Enterprise risk management 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

Risk and HR managers alike reported that they lacked the skilled resources to understand and address people-related issues. They also cited budget constraints and a lack of clarity around accountability around organisations as a significant barrier.

A shared responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for each individual risk varied considerably between companies, suggesting that collectively, the business community has not standardised roles and responsibilities for managing many people risks.

A new approach

This report shares solutions and practical tips towards mitigating people risk and becoming more resilient.

Click here to view the Australian infographic.

To download a copy of the Australian report, please fill out the form below.

About the survey

The Australian Managing the People Side of Risk survey was conducted over March and April 2021. There was a split of 60% risk professionals and 40% HR professionals, 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 organisation 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 organisation is currently addressing the risk on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing not at all and 5 to a great extent.


This webpage is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.  Marsh shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein.

Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting, or legal matters are based solely on our experience as insurance brokers and risk consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax, or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors

Marsh Pty Ltd (ABN 86 004 651 512, AFSL 238983) (“Marsh”) arrange this insurance and is not the insurer. The Discretionary Trust Arrangement is issued by the Trustee, JLT Group Services Pty Ltd (ABN 26 004 485 214, AFSL 417964) (“JGS”). JGS is part of the Marsh group of companies. Any advice in relation to the Discretionary Trust Arrangement is provided by JLT Risk Solutions Pty Ltd (ABN 69 009 098 864, AFSL 226827) which is a related entity of Marsh. The cover provided by the Discretionary Trust Arrangement is subject to the Trustee’s discretion and/or the relevant policy terms, conditions and exclusions. This website contains general information, does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs and may not suit your personal circumstances. For full details of the terms, conditions and limitations of the covers and before making any decision about whether to acquire a product, refer to the specific policy wordings and/or Product Disclosure Statements available from JLT Risk Solutions on request. Full information can be found in the JLT Risk Solutions Financial Services Guide.”