The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the many ways that poor management of people risks can lead to business disruptions. Some of these risks have been clear for decades, such as lower output from business disruption or slower productivity owing to a disengaged workforce. But there are less obvious ones too: A business’s reputation is more fragile than ever. Being seen as disorganized or indifferent can impede a firm’s ability to recruit long after the worst is over. Likewise, the risks of safety incidents and data privacy violations increase during periods of crisis, which can lead to regulatory penalties.

However, these areas of vulnerability can also be made into positions of strength, allowing proactive firms to gain a competitive advantage over slower-moving rivals. By managing their plans judiciously, organizations can help support their business objectives and minimize unplanned costs and brand damage. In this paper, we identify crucial ways that health and benefit plans can reduce people risks at times of crisis.

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