The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations to respond to new risks within their workforce, yet businesses are struggling to adapt.

Two research reports by Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) have addressed the issue of people-related risk.

The findings show that UK respondents rank deteriorating mental health as their top concern in relation to people risk.

This is followed by cybersecurity threats, and talent attraction, retention and engagement.

In response to these findings, the report has highlighted that over four in five HR teams (85 percent) are looking to make employee well-being a top priority in 2021.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) are looking to implement new organisational structures in order to respond to the changing nature of risk within the workplace as a result of COVID-19.

Despite ranking top in the UK, the threat of deteriorating mental health only places sixth globally.

Alongside this, the UK ranked diversity, equality and inclusion and the environment as key concerns, but both risks did not appear in the global top ten.

The UK’s concern with DEI was also reflected in research from MMB and the Reward & Employee Benefit Association, where it was seen to be the number one challenge facing organisations in 2021.

The report, Turning People Risk into a Business Opportunity, found that the most common difficulties in addressing these barriers to managing risk were a lack of senior leadership engagement, and a lack of skilled resources to understand and address risks.

The second report, People Risk: Why the Need For Change is Urgent, identified key blind spots in risk.

Talent practices and accelerated digitisations were found to be key areas businesses were failing to address.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Bailey, Partner and UK&I Consulting Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits, said:

Despite deteriorating mental health being highlighted as a top concern to UK businesses, engagement among executive leadership and board level accountability remains low.

This is particularly worrying as the UK COVID-19 restrictions end and businesses start asking employees to return to workplaces. Now more than ever the wellbeing and mental health of colleagues should be on boardroom agendas.

HR teams and risk management professionals must work together and consider the strategies they have in place to mitigate these key risks and, if they don’t look robust, redesign processes, policies and provisions for the future.


*In order to obtain this research, MMB pulse survey completed in April among 1,380+ participants globally, 46 percent of which were HR professionals and 54 percent Risk Managers.