When Assessing Risk, Don’t Forget the People
July 11, 2011 Leave a comment
The Conference Board released a report today about the need for stronger integration of human capital risks into a company’s overall enterprise risk management program. Too often, these risks are left to the human resources department to manage alone with little understanding of the potential impact to a company’s entire operation. After surveying 161 leading companies worldwide, here is what the researchers discovered.
At most companies, human capital accounts for at least half of operating costs and can have a significant impact on business results. However, the study finds that human capital risk (HCR) — which can range from unionization/labor relations to offshoring and outsourcing to staffing in a pandemic — tends to be siloed in human resources departments, away from the companywide assessment and mitigation processes of enterprise risk management (ERM). This arrangement prevents information about HCR from having a role in the comprehensive, aggregate view of risks, root causes, interactions, and impacts through which leaders set priorities and determine overall strategy.
Out of eleven risk categories, executives ranked HCR as having the fourth highest impact on business results, ahead of financial, reputational, supply chain, and IT risks. This high ranking is evidence that HCR should be taken seriously as an enterprise risk. However, less than one-third (31 percent) of companies believe they effectively assess human capital risk, and 24 percent believe they do an ineffective job.
During an economic crisis such as the one we have experienced, many companies lose sight of what really drives a business – people. Understanding the risks associated with the primary business driver is certainly a no-brainer.