Mental health risks and talent retention top board level concerns

People-related risks, such as those that arise from difficulties retaining and attracting talent and concerns over mental health, have risen to the top of C-suite agendas, according to law firm Clyde & Co and Winmark’s latest Looking Glass Report.

Some 69% of all respondents expecting this risk to have a high or very high impact on their organisations, while increased regulation and compliance (64%) is in second place in terms of respondents ranking it as a high or very high impact risk.

Technological risk (54%) features in third place.

The annual Looking Glass report brings together the findings from Clyde & Co and Winmark’s survey of senior leaders from board directors and CEOs, general counsels and other senior C-Suite executives, asking them to assess greatest risks impacting their businesses in the next two to three years.

People challenges – from recruiting and retaining staff due to record vacancies and high competition for talent, to succession planning and fears of skills shortages that will affect long-term planning – were cited most commonly as high impact risks. Staff well-being, mental health, and supporting remote workers are other high priorities.

Heidi Watson, an employment Partner at Clyde & Co, commented: “Not only have businesses had to cope with the risks that came from the unprecedented shift to remote working, they are now adjusting to new working models while facing a skills shortage as economies bounce back but the workforce takes time to adjust.”

“There will be more focus on workplace culture, training and development as employers seek to attract and retain talent. Meanwhile, the focus on wellbeing and mental health that came from the pandemic and was identified in the survey has been a positive step, and businesses will be assessing how they can implement new processes and systems to ensure they manage the impacts on individuals and their organisations.”

Climate change (which includes climate change liabilities, natural disasters, and energy transition) was cited by 47% of respondents as a high impact risk (placing it 6th in the risk register) which is a significant perception change in GCs (+32%) and boards (+10%) from last year’s survey.

Significantly, senior leaders surveyed said that they feel least prepared for climate change risks (30% not prepared), with societal changes (29% not prepared), and geopolitical risk (26% not prepared) following it on the list.

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