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Press announcement

Global Perma-Crisis Set to Drastically Impact Employee Wellbeing in 2024, as 80% Predict Burnout Will Have a Significant Effect on Businesses


The global perma-crisis is set to continue to take its toll in 2024, as extreme weather events continue to impact organisations and global instability deepens.

This situation is giving rise to concerning levels of employee burnout. According to the latest International SOS Risk Outlook Report 2024, 80% of surveyed global senior risk professionals predict burnout will have a significant impact on businesses in the next year1. But only 41% of them feel that their organisations are equipped to deal with it.

It also provides a detailed view of some of the major risks which organisations must address in 2024 including the climate crisis, the power of AI, the evolution of employees’ expectations and worldwide unrest.

Sally Llewellyn, Global Security Director, International SOS comments,

Organisations will have many risks to address in 2024, as instability continues to be a key theme of the global security environment. The near-continuous pace of crises makes it even more challenging for organisations to navigate. Crisis management teams have been running consistently since COVID, creating a real risk of burnout in this critical function.

Being proactive regarding risk management will be key as many surveyed expect the risks companies are facing to increase in 2024. Partnering with other organisations or experts can help organisations understand which risks – and their second or third order impacts – they are most likely to face based on geographic reach, industry or travel patterns. Forewarning enables organisations to proactively plan for or mitigate likely risks. Building resilience within crisis management functions is also important. Expanding pools of leaders able to step in during crises and empowering them through sound training is critical to ensuring perma-crisis does not derail wider business operations.

The International SOS Risk Outlook Report 2024: The Top 5 Predictions

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 conflict 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 report’s findings noted that organisations have experienced a noticeable surge in stress-related absences. Surveyed respondents emphasise 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.

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 world2. One in four organisations 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, emphasising how vulnerable many organisations 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.

Additionally, as the global weather and climate profile changes in many regions, so does the health risk environment. Dr Irene Lai, Global Medical Director, International SOS comments,

Many of the extreme weather events we witnessed in 2023 may become commonplace in the year ahead potentially driving climate anxiety amongst a growing number of employees. Extreme heat in Europe, for example, could become a regular occurrence with potentially more named heatwaves, following the first – Cerberus – this year.

With rising temperatures comes the increased possibility of disease spread, as the conditions are opportune for mosquito-borne diseases. We have already seen this in some regions, with the appearance of locally transmitted malaria in several U.S. states after two decades. The changing transmission pattern of malaria in the African highlands and the trends in vector-borne diseases in Europe pose some significant new challenges for public health officials. Therefore, it is crucial for organisations to have plans in place to address the potential rise in novel medical risks.
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 organisations will face significant impacts in the coming year. Notably, the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza, as well as the persistent conflict in Ukraine, contribute to this unstable global environment. Civil and social unrest, coupled with political instability, rank as the next largest worries for organisations. 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.

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 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.

The New Employment Contract
Three-quarters of surveyed organisations 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.

1. The 2024 Risk Outlook, based on a survey of 675 global senior risk professionals, exposes gaps in the protection of employee health and security such as risk perception, mental health, productivity impacts and operational challenges. The survey is complemented with interpretations and predictions from the Workforce Resilience Council, as well as extensive proprietary data and analysis from International SOS. The Workforce Resilience Council is made up of representative experts from all health, security, and safety fields. The participants in this year’s Council are from a mix of think tanks, associations, advisory boards, NGOs, and IGOs, relevant to the risks of working at home or abroad.

2. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives and protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, and your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity, and sustainability.

Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by over 9,000 organisations. This includes the majority of the Fortune Global 500. As well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and NGOs. Nearly 12,000 multi-cultural security, medical, logistics and digital experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days. Between them, International SOS employees speak nearly 100 languages and dialects in our Assistance Centres, Clinics, and offices.

To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips: