Global workforce risk at 5-year high and set to rise in 2021, suggest experts

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on November 27, 2020 Published on November 27, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed the highest risk to the global workforce since 2016, shows a finding in a Risk Outlook 2021 by by International SOS. Carried out by research organisation Ipsos MORI, Business Resilience Trends survey of over 1,400 risk professionals across 99 countries including India, revealed that workforce risk is perceived to be at 5-year high and is expected to increase in 2021 amid the aftermath of the pandemic.

Around eight in ten risk professionals believe the health and security risks faced by the workforce increased in 2020 -specifically for domestic employees (by about 85 per cent in past five years), assignees (81 per cent), student and faculty (80 per cent), business travellers (79 per cent) and remote workers (77 per cent). About half believe that this will increase further in 2021, a concern most acutely felt in Asia, especially among those responsible for assignees (60 per cent) and business travellers (60 per cent).

As organisations strive to get back to business operations, Covid-19 will be the prism that most other risks will be seen through. Dr Rahul Kalia, Medical Director at International SOS, said, “Just as 9/11 changed the way that employers saw their Duty of Care with respect to security issues, so the pandemic is destined to have a lasting change to employer approach to employee health threats.”

Focus on employee health

“While the current Pandemic and other seasonal infectious diseases continue to be the disruptive threat to business continuity in India, rising mental health issues amongst employees are anticipated to impact organization in India considerably in the near future. The focus on employee health, not only reactive but also proactive, will need to take center stage,” Kalia informed.

As travel progressively opens again to support the recovery of the global economy, this will need to be done safely and sustainably, tackling the issues of traveller well-being and confidence. Organisations may need to re-imagine their health and wellness strategies as well to ensure a healthy and engaged workforces.

“The pandemic has triggered Board level decision-making on health issues, the increasing need for real-time expert medical guidance, and organisational responsibility for employee wellbeing including those working from home,” he added. Perceptions of traditional health responsibility need to be aligned/enhanced to global best practice and, as such, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) will come into greater focus.

In its top five risk outlook for 2021, International SOS predicts, ecopolitical turbulence will exacerbate tensions, civil unrest and crime, Pandemic-borne crisis management teams will redefine Duty of Care practices, The growing info-demic will increase demand for trusted sources of health & security information and advice, Mental health issues will be a primary productivity disruptor and singular focus on Covid-19 will create risk blind spots. The majority of risk professionals surveyed feel that infectious disease (including Covid-19, Malaria, Dengue, Ebola, Zika, etc.) will cause a decrease in employee productivity in the next year.

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Published on November 27, 2020
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