ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) — A worldwide report on risk management finds that one-in-eight workers pose a “high risk” to their companies.

Based on data collected from more than 1.3 million people across 200 countries and territories, and ranging from executives to frontline staff, Atlanta-based talent management company SHL’s research finds that on average one-in-eight people globally pose a high level of behavioral risk to their organization.

Released on Jan. 8, the SHL findings hope to show organizations that they should be aware of potential advantages and disadvantages given that behavioral risk can’t be fully eliminated from a workplace. The study claims one-in-eight managers and professionals globally represent a high risk to their companies. The risk such workers create comes from lower-quality decision-making and poorer communication, the report says.

“Considering recent events in the financial and media sectors, we are constantly seeing evidence that what people do or fail to do drives organizational risk which can impact share prices, break laws and catalyze industry reform,” Eugene Burke, chief science and analytics officer at SHL, told Workforce. “Many businesses are blind-sided by not assessing behavioral risk and only focusing on policies and procedures. While risk cannot be eliminated, it has an upside and a downside and organizations need to be aware of their own appetite for risk so it can be managed in a constructive way.”

SHL’s research also found that one-in-eight frontline staff poses a high risk to their organization by demonstrating counterproductive behaviors in the workplace: lower compliance and attention to detail — which the study says could translate into increased error rates and accident. Also, lower commitment and teamwork — which the study argues could impact customer service as well as incurring higher costs associated with absenteeism and performance management.

The higher the position in the company, the lower the risk: 1 in 15 executives pose a high risk for their companies. Conversely, one-in-seven lower-level employees, such as team leaders and individual contributors, provide the highest potential for risky behavior.

However, the study also showed that senior management employees can actually pose the largest risk to organizations by lacking necessary communication and decision-making abilities.

“By ignoring whistle-blowers or not taking into account viewpoints from across the business, leaders can be missing vital clues to manage risk, which can have devastating consequences as we’ve seen from recent news developments,” Burke says. “Organizations must ask themselves whether they have the right talent in place at the middle management level to manage risk appropriately and deliver the board’s vision to the frontline.”


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