Resilience and the Workforce Are Key Concerns in 2021 and Over the Next Decade, According to Protiviti-NC State Global Survey

Board members and C-suite executives around the globe are most concerned in 2021 with risks associated with COVID-19-related government policies and regulations, economic conditions that may restrict growth, and market conditions that may continue to impact customer demand, according to a new survey from Protiviti and NC State University. Amid these near-term headwinds, when asked about top concerns through 2030, business leaders cite challenges that ultimately ladder up to talent. High ranking risks – including the adoption of technology that requires new or upgraded skills, rapid innovation that threatens business models and the reimagining of creative strategies – point to a need to attract and retain top talent and invest in reskilling and upskilling the workforce to ensure agility and resilience in the future.

The annual survey, titled “Executive Perspectives on Top Risks for 2021 and 2030,” was conducted by Protiviti and NC State University Poole College of Management’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) Initiative. In its ninth year, the survey was conducted following the November 3 U.S. elections to reduce the influence that an uncertain outcome could potentially have on survey results. The study surveyed over 1,000 board members and C-suite executives from organizations in a variety of industries and in all regions around the globe.

The Top 10 Risks for 2021 – and 2030

Survey respondents were asked to rate 36 macroeconomic, strategic and operational risks, including new risks that emerged this year related to the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice. Not surprisingly, pandemic-related risks and economic and market conditions top the near-term concerns.

New for this year’s survey, respondents also rated the expected impact of the same 36 risks on their organizations in 2030. The risk landscape of 2030 presents a markedly different picture. Taking a decade-long view of the risk horizon, executives are concerned about the future of work, particularly when it comes to their organization’s ability to adapt to emerging digital technologies and keep pace with the rapid speed of disruptive innovation. According to the survey results, an organization’s ability to upskill and reskill employees as well as attract and retain top talent will be paramount to its risk management strategy in the decade ahead.

Consistent with the survey’s findings in previous years, data security and cyber threats again rank in the top 10 risks for both 2021 and 2030. The continuously evolving nature of cyber and privacy risks underscores the need for a secure operating environment in which nimble workforces can regularly refresh the technology and skills in their arsenal to remain competitive.

Click on the infographic below to see top risks at a glance.

Infographic: Top Risks at a Glance, 2021 and 2030

The survey report also includes a call to action, offering executives and directors diagnostic questions to consider when evaluating risk assessment and risk management processes.

The full report, executive summary, podcast about the survey results, and other resources are available for complimentary download here. Protiviti will host a one-hour webinar on February 24, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. PST, with a panel that includes Dr. Mark Beasley, professor of Enterprise Risk Management and director of NC State’s ERM Initiative, and Protiviti Managing Directors Kim Bozzella, Jim DeLoach, Patrick Scott and Manisha Shah, to discuss the implications of the survey’s findings on. Attendance is free with registration here.

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