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Risk in Context

Recovery Readiness Assessment – Benchmarking Results

Posted by Catherine Cyphus 17 August 2020

The COVID-19 crisis caught many organisations off guard, challenged established ways of working, and put recovery plans to the test. The extraordinary nature of this crisis has caused uncertainty and posed challenges to recovery. Findings from Marsh’s Recovery Readiness Assessment survey highlight how organisations are now focussing on their recovery following the pandemic lockdowns in the UK and around the world.

Our survey found that:

  1. Over one third of organisations reported significant weaknesses in their recovery planning, with only a minority actively preparing for a second wave of infection.
  2. Return to workplace planning was the primary focus for many, with the majority implementing robust hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE) policies.
  3. Financial planning was weak in many organisations, with 82% having not conducted any quantitative scenario modelling.

Recovery Planning

Recovery planning for the COVID-19 crisis has proven more complex than the initial response phase — and getting it right will be essential to returning to some form of normality as quickly and safely as possible.

When preparing for recovery, scenario-planning considerations are essential. This is particularly true of the COVID-19 crisis due to the ongoing risk of a second or third wave infection scenario. Despite this, the survey found that only 33% of organisations have a plan in place to respond to another peak. Those organisations with documented procedures that state the trigger points and immediate actions needed to respond are more likely to recover quickly if a resurgence in cases occurs.

In addition, we found that only 32% of organisations have conducted an incident response team debrief and 31% have updated their response plans.

These gaps in planning will limit an organisation's capacity to respond effectively to future crises and reduce the ability to improve current crisis arrangements based on lessons learned.

Return to workplace planning

In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, most organisations have implemented PPE and hygiene policies to some extent. Beyond physical health policies, we have seen the issue of mental health come to the forefront due to the restrictive nature of lockdown measures. The survey examined how organisations were looking after employee mental health and wellbeing and the results showed that there are gaps in planning and support.

To support their recovery, organisations need to ensure their policy for managing mental health and wellbeing reflects employee sentiment towards returning to work. Sufficient resources are also necessary, including mental health first aiders or occupational health advisors to support employees in their return to work.

Just over half of organisations have established a policy for the effective management of mental health. We also found that many did not have a return to work plan that reflects the sentiment and mood of their workforce. Some employees may have found the COVID-19 related working adjustments stressful and anxiety inducing; measures need to be in place to support them. Gaps were also found in the number of organisations who had sufficient resources to deal with this potential increase in support needed, demonstrating a risk to employees as they transition back to normality.

Financial planning

Organisations ranked financial risk as the second biggest threat over the next 12 months, with people risk ranked the number one threat. The survey highlighted how organisations were combatting this through quantifying and forecasting the financial impact of COVID-19 on their business. We found that only 18% of organisations have conducted quantitative stress testing or modelling of their recovery.

Organisations should ensure they have an understanding of how COVID-19 will affect financial objectives, including profit and loss, cash flow, and balance sheet. Modelling will allow for a better understanding of the ongoing implications to their cost and revenue drivers, and offer a detailed review of risk mitigations, controls, and investment options.

Catherine Cyphus

Vice President, Risk Consulting Practice, Client Advisory Services