Boost business resilience by addressing people risks, report says

Discover how modern benefits and HR strategies can mitigate emerging workforce risks and cost

The People Risk 2024 report by Mercer Canada highlights the critical nature of people risks as financial risks.  

Traditional benefits no longer suffice, urging HR and Risk professionals to address gaps in current programs and evolving workforce risks.  

Modernizing benefit programs and governance is essential for differentiating the employee value proposition and mitigating emerging risks. The report underscores the importance of investing in people to protect businesses.   

Canadian employers shared their perspectives, revealing key concerns:   

Increasing Health and Benefits Costs 

HR and Risk leaders have identified benefits reductions as the primary risk. These costs are rising above general inflation, driven by new treatments for chronic diseases and high utilization. There is a growing demand for and awareness of prevention and health supports.  

Four out of ten (40 percent) HR and Risk professionals worry about controlling costs beyond benefits reductions. Over 60 percent of organizations lack risk mitigation measures or feel they could improve their approach. 

Additionally, 48 percent of HR and Risk professionals are concerned that benefits decisions are made without considering the long-term impact.   

Technology Skills Shortages 

HR and Risk professionals cite technology skills shortages as a significant concern, impacting talent attraction/retention, regulatory compliance, and upskilling for AI readiness.  

Over 60 percent of organizations need to improve their employee value proposition to attract employees with the needed tech skills. Due to a lack of skilled cyber expertise, 40 percent of respondents are particularly concerned about the increased risk of cyber-attacks.  

Additionally, 39 percent of respondents are worried about the increased risk of cyber-attacks specifically due to a lack of cybersecurity awareness, organizational design, and culture.   

Sub-optimal HR Technology 

Concerns about sub-optimal HR technology are significant among HR and risk professionals. 51 percent of respondents indicate that their organizations need to improve their digital-first benefits administration and talent management processes to enhance the employee experience.  

Over one in three professionals are concerned about the inability to support employees and the business during moments of crisis.

Additionally, 40 percent of HR and risk professionals are worried that senior leadership expects enterprise-wide HR technologies to solve all problems without the use of niche technologies.    

Organization Risk Includes Employees' Personal Risk   

Inadequate personal catastrophe coverage ranks fourth overall, including insufficient home or other insurance for rising threats like fire and flood.  

60 percent of respondents indicate that HR lacks strong involvement in business operations, sustainability management, risk committees, and C-Suite decision-making.  

Almost 40 percent are concerned that employees may be unable to access needed healthcare due to damage to community infrastructure and that healthcare benefits may be insufficient to cover climate-related conditions. 

Pandemics and Organizational Resilience 

Pandemic risk ranks fifth in Canada, but HR continues to worry about lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsafe working conditions, mental health deterioration, and healthcare system deterioration remain top concerns.  

A third of respondents are concerned about supervisors’ inability to handle employee mental health issues. 65 percent see the need to improve or establish policies, practices, and analytics to support workforce health and productivity.  

Almost half of the respondents are concerned about late diagnoses of serious conditions, like cancer, and the healthcare system's inability to cope with a crisis.   

The report calls for organizations to invest in benefits delivery and the employee experience to appeal to employees with needed tech skills.