Reasearch study finds organisations are better prepared for technology and environmental risks ahead of risks faced by losing ‘talent’ and employee absence.


  • Only one in ten organisations say they have robust plans in place to ensure their business continues to run smoothly if a number of employees leave or are absent unexpectedly
  • Less than a third of UK managers are concerned about employee defection, even though one in five staff are actively considering moving jobs in the next twelve months
  • Business managers place a greater emphasis on technology and environmental risks than on talent risk, despite the growing importance of the people economy


When it comes to business continuity planning, UK businesses are much better prepared for technology and environmental risks than they are for the risk of losing talent. This is the key finding of a new report, ‘What if …? Exploring attitudes towards risk’, based on interviews with 615 UK senior managers conducted on behalf of Vodafone UK. This is despite the growing need to attract and retain the best talent and the relatively high probability of talent leaving or becoming unavailable for work.


Although one in five employees are reported to be actively considering a job move in the next twelve months, only 29 per cent of UK managers say employee defection to another firm is a significant concern. This compares to 59 per cent who cite IT systems failure and 36 per cent who list damage to facilities through fire or flood as key concerns.


While respondents accept that talent risks such as employee defection or illness are more probable than environmental risks, for example, only 10 per cent of those surveyed say they have robust plans in place to respond to talent loss. In comparison, 37 per cent say they that they have such plans in place for the loss of key facilities through fire, flood or similar events.


Peter Kelly, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK, said: “Risk is inherent in business and it comes in many forms. As market conditions worsen it is imperative that businesses are better prepared than ever. Businesses must implement new processes and technology to find better ways of working by enabling employees to mobile work securely. Not only does this help companies cut costs but it is also a proven way of attracting and retaining the best talent. Businesses need to protect themselves further from challenges posed to business continuity by becoming aware of the risk of losing that valuable talent.”


“This research shows that businesses should place a greater emphasis on identifying and managing talent risk as part of a business continuity management strategy. This is not only best practice but it will contribute to business excellence – essential in such a tough economic climate.” added Kelly.


Overall, UK businesses have become a lot more aware of risk and response in recent years, and there is greater recognition of the need for business continuity management (BCM). Three-fifths of UK managers say that their organisation has become more focused on risk over the past three years.


However, organisations vary in their preparedness. Nine out of ten organisations with more than 250 employees have business continuity plans in place. For SMEs, four fifths of businesses with 50 to 249 staff have these kinds of plans at the ready. However, smaller businesses are less prepared, with only two-fifths of organisations with up to 10 employees having continuity plans.


Technology risks are among the top concerns for UK managers among organisations of all sizes. Three-fifths of organisations report that the failure of IT systems is a significant concern. Similarly, telecommunications failure (46%), the loss of confidential data (44%) and cyber-attacks (39%) are also cited as significant concerns.


However, technology is also seen as a way to protect businesses against other risks. For example, technology can reduce the level of operational disruption from environmental events like adverse weather or pandemic. Just over half of organisations with business continuity plans in place indicate that mobile technology forms a prominent part of these and two-fifths report the same for remote access to IT systems.


In some sectors, remote IT access forms the bedrock of business continuity planning. Three-fifths of financial services and technology organisations describe its role as prominent.