Cybersecurity is HR's main concern in Singapore – but it's not the only challenge

Focusing on cybersecurity risks may have deprioritised support for staff

Cybersecurity is HR's main concern in Singapore – but it's not the only challenge

Risks emerging from a more digitalised world have been identified by companies in Asia as their top people-rated risk, but focusing on such threats has placed support for employees in jeopardy, according to a new report by Mercer March Benefits.

In a survey among over 2,500 human resources and risk professionals, cybersecurity and data privacy is the top people-rated risk, followed by pandemics and other communicable health decisions.

While valid, after the world plunged into uncertainty because of COVID-19 that forced a lot of businesses online, prioritising these immediate threats may have come at the expense of support for employees, according to the report.

Despite 89% of Asia-based employees saying health and safety of employees is a serious threat, the following risks related to them have placed low in their risk rating score:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (17th)
  • Mental health (20th)
  • Workforce exhaustion (23rd)
  • Work-related illness and injury (25th)

According to the report, only 42% of organisations have effective and measurable plans to advance DE&I, while only 48% have effective strategies on the company's purpose, culture, values, and ethics. In addition, only 49% and 53% of companies plan to invest in mitigating workforce exhaustion and mental health risks in the next 12 to 24 months.

Joan Collar, Asia and Pacific Region Leader, Mercer March Benefits, urged organisations to take a "more holistic approach."

"Companies need to adopt a more holistic approach to develop and engage their workforce and be very mindful of blind spots on the horizon, particularly around DE&I and ethics which are key to attracting and retaining the right people," said Collar in a statement.

"Talent and benefit practices should also be aligned with the values of the organisation and include a clear position on important issues such as climate change policy, diversity, equity, and inclusion and equitable access to benefits."

Read more: 'One-size-fits-all' wellbeing is doomed to fail – here's why

Cybersecurity and data privacy

Meanwhile, cybersecurity and data privacy emerged as the top people-rated risk in Asia-based organisations. Despite this, only 48% of them said their company has effective policies, controls, and systems to address this.

The main barrier to managing these cyber risks is the "lack of skilled resources to understand and address risks," according to 45% of the respondents.

Collar said that it was "no surprise" that cyber risks are regarded as the top people-related risk in Asia.

"Ninety-five per cent of cybersecurity issues are due to human error, so reskilling and upskilling needs to be prioritised to ensure employees are keeping up with the technological development and changing world of work," said Collar.

"A large part of human error can be attributed to employee burnout and fatigue due to ongoing pressure and anxiety caused by the pandemic, as well as antiquated systems and lack of proper cyber training."

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