Inbox: People risks back on the agenda

People risks have returned to the top five concerns for Kiwi businesses, according to the latest Marsh biennial Survey of Risk, launched in October.
Lost productivity and reduced efficiency due to staff absenteeism, stress, low morale and staff turnover collectively ranked fourth in the top five risk issues identified for 2012.
Denise Moller, marketing & communications manager for insurance broker and risk adviser Marsh, says staff in many organisations have been under pressure for variety of reasons in the past couple of years.
Now, with the challenging economic climate, for example, many businesses have been forced to cut back on resourcing, inadvertently placing pressure on those still within the business, she says. People in Canterbury have also had “an extra challenging time”, which has caused increased stress for many.
“It is for these reasons and more that this people risk has moved back into prominence – having last featured in the top five risks in our 2008 survey.”
Moller says employee retention is big challenge for employers. As the economic climate improves there will be greater job opportunities available – especially for high performing staff who are the most likely to leave.
Survey respondents were asked if they had plans in place to manage this risk. Nearly quarter of businesses said that they did not.
Moller says now is the time, therefore, for business leaders to focus on staff retention and what they can do to ensure they don’t lose those key performers who have positive impact on the bottom line.
“Leading organisations will be those who increase their focus on communication through honest and open efforts to help reduce employee anxiety and uncertainty. You need to recognise the psychological burden and impact that can arise in tough economic climate, and make sure that workplace support and occupational health provisions are in place to prevent high levels of work-related stress.”
She says businesses wanting to get the highest level of performance from their employees must continue to develop their people – even when times are tough.
“Provide clear signals of opportunities for growth and development, and be proactive in letting staff know why it is in their best interests to stay.”
Research shows that money is often not the first priority for most people – generally only coming in at number three or four behind motivators such as career advancement and work environment.
“Now is the ideal time to be innovative and look for new ways of doing things. For example, introduce flexible working hours. Also consider other employee benefits such as life and medical insurance. The cost is not as expensive as you may think and there are advantages to both the employer and the employee.”
Moller says it is more critical than ever that organisations optimise their workforce.
“Explore engagement, development and reward strategies with employees to improve your competitive advantage. Those that do will be best equipped to survive and grow when the economy starts to strengthen.”
To download full copy of the 2012 Survey of Risk report visit
www.marsh.co.nz. M

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