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It is getting obvious that as geopolitical issues rise in our polarized world, so does the likelihood that they will affect the global operation’s performance, reputation, security and, of course, people. This is why the global perma-crisis is set to continue to take its toll in 2024, as extreme weather events continue to impact organizations and the global instability deepens. 

This situation is giving rise to concerning levels of employee burnout. According to the International SOSRisk Outlook Report 2024, 80% of surveyed global senior risk professionals predict burnout will have a significant impact on businesses in the next year. But only 41% of them feel that their organizations are equipped to deal with it. This means that there will be enormous opportunities for organizations that embrace the complexity of managing risk effectively in the new environment. Their resilience and adaptability will give them a competitive advantage over others who are constantly reeling from unexpected shocks.

So, what are the Top 5 predictions for 2024 according to International SOS?

1: Running on Empty – The Perma-Crisis Takes its Toll 

  • In recent years, as the disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic began to subside, the emergence of the Ukraine/Russia war unleashed new waves of supply chain and service disruptions across various industries.  
  • With these ongoing stressors accumulating without respite, the risk of employee burnout is becoming increasingly tangible. The International SOS report’s findings noted that organizations have experienced a noticeable surge in stress-related absences. Surveyed respondents emphasize that the perceived risk level for the next 12 months is the highest ever recorded – 65% believe that global risks will continue to grow in 2024 – compounding their crisis management fatigue beyond pre-pandemic levels. 

2: Climate Crisis – Climate Change Comes Home 

  • Over the last 2,000 years, global temperatures have increased faster in the last half century than any other similar period, highlighting how relevant climate risk is now for businesses across the world according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
  • One in four organizations reported that they have already seen their operations affected by events attributed to climate change, and this year the second biggest category out of the thousands of alerts issued by International SOS in 2023 was extreme weather events. This comes as only half of respondents say they have factored climate change into their health and security plans, emphasizing how vulnerable many organizations could be. This issue is certainly not going away, as approximately three-quarters of businesses report extreme weather as a challenge to their employees and operations in the coming year. 

3: Global Instability Deepens 

  • The second-highest security concern identified by respondents in this year's survey revolves around geopolitical tensions.  
  • As a striking three out of four respondents expressed the belief that their organizations will face significant impacts in the coming year. Notably, the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza, as well as the persistent deterioration in Ukraine, contribute to this unstable global environment. Civil and social unrest, coupled with political instability, rank as the next largest worries for organizations. The unpredictable nature of these events highlights the need for businesses to adopt robust security measures, proactively navigating the challenges arising from the dynamic global geopolitical landscape. 

4: AI – Risks and Opportunities 

  • AI has inspiring potential to create a new industrial revolution. However, for now, it further complicates the vital task of sorting reliable information from misinformation and deliberate disinformation for businesses.  
  • More than two out of five respondents of the International SOS’ Risk Outlook research said they were worried about the effect of medical misinformation and disinformation on their workforces. This rises to three in five when asked about inaccurate political information – a potentially difficult situation as the United States heads into a highly consequential election year. 

5: The New Employment Contract 

  • Three-quarters of surveyed organizations report increased employee expectations for Duty of Care.  
  • A similar number are now also shouldering duties previously seen as government responsibilities, including two-thirds who acknowledge extending responsibilities to support workers' families in times of need. This underlines how the era of offering only basic occupational health services for work-related conditions is over. While still essential, occupational health provisions must be enhanced with diverse support and interventions to safeguard and nurture employees globally. 

Viktor-Panchak-cropped.jpgViktor Panchak, CPP, is an ASIS member and a veteran of the security industry. He is currently a security director with International SOS.