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Business Resilience Trends survey results published by International SOS

The risk level to the global workforce has reached its highest since 2016 according to the findings of International SOS’s Business Resilience Trends survey of over 1,400 risk professionals across 99 countries. This was carried out by Ipsos MORI and the results have been published in the report ‘Risk Outlook 2021’ which also includes insights from the Workforce Resilience Council and extensive International SOS proprietary data.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Unsurprisingly, around eight in ten risk professionals believe the health and security risks faced by the workforce increased in 2020. Around half believe that this will increase further in 2021, a concern most acutely felt in Asia.
  • The respondents from the USA were most likely to report an increase in risk (91 percent). This is alongside a degradation in trust in local governments and health bodies; seen as a key challenge for a third (31 percent) of risk professionals surveyed – most acutely felt in the Americas (40 percent).
  • 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, and 1 in 3 respondents are anticipating mental health issues to also contribute. The Workforce Resilience Council experts predict that mental health issues will overtake COVID-19 next year as a workplace risk. 
  • Other risks also fell greatly behind as a concern for many of the respondents, including country risk rating, transport concerns and security threats. Those responsible for business travellers surveyed, cited ‘geopolitical threats’ (30 percent), ‘civil unrest’ (25 percent) and ‘security threats’ (32 percent) notably less than last year (52 percent, 52 percent and 68 percent respectively).

Mick Sharp, Group Director Security Services at International SOS, said, “The findings have uncovered a disconnect and a potentially business threatening level of COVID-19 myopia. Security issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic, particularly in relation to civil unrest and political protest. This has been driven by both COVID-related opportunism and existing divisions. Similarly, crime levels have increased in some locations, noting we are only at the beginning of the socio-economic and psychological fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. It is understandable that, to varying degrees, the general population and business are more focussed on the demands and application of COVID-related precautions. However, perennial security and safety issues have not abated, graphically illustrated by the recent terror attacks in Vienna among others. Similarly, responding to high impact threats such as Natural disasters has gained another layer of complexity due to COVID-19 medical considerations and fluid travel restrictions.”

Top five Risk Outlook 2021 predictions:

The report lists the following as the top five changes we will see to the risk landscape during 2021:

  • • Ecopolitical turbulence will exacerbate tensions, civil unrest and crime
  • • Pandemic borne crisis management teams will redefine Duty of Care practices
  • • The growing infodemic will increase demand for trusted sources of health & security information and advice
  • • Mental health issues will be a primary productivity disruptor
  • • Singular focus on COVID-19 will create risk blind spots.

The results from the report have been incorporated into International SOS’s latest risk map, which can be accessed below:

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