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The Five Pillars of People Risk

meeting in conference room

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

“CEOs are recognizing the impact that well-being can have on business continuity, safety, employee performance, the client experience, reputation and ultimately the bottom line. This is reflected in our research, which shows the importance of urgently tackling people-related risks.”

Hervé Balzano
President, Mercer Health and MMB International Leader

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 744 risk and 637 HR professionals across the globe, 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 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.

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 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 risk and HR managers who had ultimate responsibility for 25 people-related exposures. Responses were mixed, but risk management, HR and senior leadership were consistently among the top three responses.

A new approach

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

Click here to view the global infographic.

About the survey

The Managing the People Side of Risk survey was conducted over March and April 2021 with1,381 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 54% risk professionals and 46% 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 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.


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