COVID Creates Some Key Workforce Risks for 2021

January 25, 2021
LRN Corporation

Business risk groups and experts are looking at what the top workforce challenges and risks are likely to be for 2021, and many of these risks are related to an increasingly remote workforce due to COVID-19.

The rapid transformation of work in 2020 has led to higher risks and heightened dangers related to business continuity, cybersecurity, culture, and talent management, according to a Wall Street Journal article on what risk management organizations are saying to look out for this year.

The World Economic Forum recently noted companies are under significant pressures stemming from the financial, digital, and reputational effects of the pandemic.

“Rapid digitalization is exponentially increasing cyber exposures, supply chain disruption is radically altering business models, and a rise in serious health issues has accompanied employees’ shift to remote working,” risk management leader Carolina Klint of insurance brokerage Marsh said in a statement following the release of WEF’s Global Risks Report 2021.

Companies can expect to face more of the same in 2021, with some new risks–mostly stemming from a return to the office–added in. These new risks related to returning to the office include workplace safety, employee retention, and liability issues.

When it comes to workplace safety, organizations are facing a slew of challenges, such as how many people can occupy an office space or an elevator at the same, and whether to require employees be vaccinated, WSJ reported. Similarly, companies may find themselves facing lawsuits from employees who contract COVID-19 in the office.

On the topic of employee retention and talent management, some risk management experts are pointing to a potential side effect of remote work: Employees may be reluctant to return to the office after getting used to working from home, and companies may need to offer more generous remote work options to retain and compete for talent in future, said the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Remote work could also put some business relationships at risk, David Fisher, a partner at advisory firm Guidehouse, told the WSJ. Companies are going to need to figure out how to manage the ongoing risks of clients becoming more in-person again while employees want to remain remote.

With a return to the office looming for many organizations, company leaders need to start weighing the risks and putting plans into place as soon as possible.

About the Author

LRN Corporation

Ethics and compliance leader providing tools, education, and advisory services for global companies to inspire principled performance. LRN’s overall approach recognizes the inherent limitations of rules and regulations in influencing behaviors. In our view, focusing on actions that help build and maintain a values-based culture will mean more compliance and reduced costs as a result of tangible and sustainable behavioral change.

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