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3 Operational Risks to Consider in the New World

Ania Caruso

Ania Caruso

Vice President, Business Development - The Plexus Groupe/Fiinancial Services Business Development-Complex Technical Solutions/Customer Service Authority/Big Thinks: Contributor

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Cyber threats, compliance aspects and succession planning are front and center, more urgent than ever and require an all-hands-on-deck approach, from CEO to Receptionist.

Risky Business Environment

Organizations in virtually every industry, of various sizes and across the globe, have been experiencing a riskier business environment, and the expectations for the year 2020, even before Covid-19 entered the equation, was no different.  The degree of impact any given risk can have on the firm can vary from a minor inconvenience to a major disruption. Managing the company’s suite of risks that includes strategic, operational, reputational and compliance risk, to name a few, have been shifting from the reactive versus proactive basis.  

The Boards and the Executive teams are expecting active involvement and innovation around risk detection, identifying and implementing risk mitigation actions and techniques while continuing to upgrade their business continuity plans.  The risk management departments, along with IT and Human Resources, have been on the front lines over the last 3 months tackling the impacts of pandemics on short and long term plans.  That heightened focus and attention on this exposure is not going away anytime soon. If anything else, it gives the spotlight for various exposures to revisit and re-evaluate given the new macroeconomics the world is facing.

Have you considered the impact the new world around us has on these 3 operational risks?

  1. Cyber threats

Businesses will continue to shift part of their workforce to work from home permanently as some divisions are seeing a measurable increase in productivity due to recent changes. However, it will potentially leave companies more vulnerable to ransomware, phishing and other cyber-attacks as we have already seen in the news.  Within days, firms had to deploy and test business continuity plans in real-time for their employees to go fully remote.  One of the major risks is the potential of employees to expose sensitive corporate information while working remote over insecure wireless networks. As company switch to more remote work, they are more vulnerable to cyber attacks.As cyber criminals constantly look to invent new ways to harm organizations there is a need for firms to be vigilant and proactive and to re-evaluate and test new security measures.  The severity of the cyber events have the potential of significantly disrupting not only the core operations but damaging the company’s finances, brand and reputation. 

  1. Effect of regulatory changes and scrutiny on the company’s operational resilience

No company wants to find itself in non-compliance with the state or federal regulations and dedicates a tremendous amount of internal and external resources to make sure they comply.  Each state has Workers Compensation laws that give employees benefits if they have work-related injuries or illnesses.  These laws are unique and vary somewhat from state to state. However, traditionally the flu and other infectious diseases have not been covered.  In recent weeks, certain states have been issuing changes and/or clarifications on what constitutes occupational disease in light of the current pandemic.  Organizations that operate across multiple jurisdictions have to rely on extensive coordination and collaboration to make sure they continue to take care of all stakeholders during fluid times such as these.

  1. Succession planning

The retirment tsunami is coming.The “retirement tsunami” that we have been expecting to hit soon will be pushed out due to the financial implications that the shutdown has had on the economy.  The eligible employees that were ready to exit the workforce will stay longer to rebuild their financial nest egg. This can be viewed as positive given the war on talent in many industries.

But what happens if the key institutional and/or technical knowledge that is held by the few at the highest levels leaves the company either by choice or due to illness?  Fewer candidates are willing to relocate to certain cities that are hit heavily by the pandemic, and the interview process can now last months. 

Organizations need to ask themselves what is the proficiency of the current workforce in terms of skillset, competency and potential to step up to the plate?  What is the level of interest of these individuals to assume “mission critical” roles in the future?  The workplace dynamics will continue to shift and evolve and will present opportunities for firms to deploy novel ideas to attract and retain top talent.  Greater adaptation of remote work policies allowing employees to live anywhere will inadvertently create a more diverse and agile pool of talent as well.

To ensure not only the survival of a company but a thriving platform to rebuilt and reclaim market position, keeping the operational-risk discipline mindset at the forefront of all levels in the organization – from the CEO to the receptionist – is the key.

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