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Article | WTW Research Network Newsletter

What should organisations be doing given this new reality?

Risk & Analytics|Investments|Cyber Risk Management|Employee Engagement
COVID 19 Coronavirus|Climate Risk and Resilience

By Frederick Gentile and Lucy Stanbrough | April 15, 2020

This article looks at a post-COVID-19 world, and what businesses can be doing in this new environment.

Current events and their future implications could present a seismic change in the geopolitical landscape as well as business and societal environments. The experience of COVID-19 underlines the need to improve detection and warning and to prevent crises from happening, or at least minimize the impact if they do occur. Crisis management and business continuity planning should be integrated with specialist insurances to support organizations’ risk appetites and reduce their total cost of risk.

In the short-term, Willis Towers Watson has established a dedicated COVID-19 insights hub where you will find thinking from all our teams to help with your response. For example:

  • Impact on hourly workers: COVID-19 is impacting all industries, and companies must act quickly to address how to compensate their hourly workers. As part of a series of pulse surveys related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are seeing a shift in attitudes toward the potential impact on business1, which can be found in our COVID-19 insights hub.
  • Employee perspective: This is a time when compassion and careful listening are at their most necessary. Many clients are rapidly pivoting to regular COVID-19 Pulse Surveys. We have designed a COVID-19 Pulse Survey that is available now to all our clients.2
  • Mental health: Never has it been more important for managers to know their teams to support mental wellbeing and increase workplace resilience in this time of crisis.3

As the situation continues to unfold, boards and their risk managers should be proactive and review their risk profiles and appetites, and ask themselves where they consider the tipping points to be. Decisions around strategy, investment, growth and expansion will at the very least need to be reviewed in the cold light of a harsher and more challenging environment.

Interconnected risks require integrated solutions that must be tailored and address insurable and non-insurable risks seamlessly. To do this effectively they need to:

  • Understand their new environment through relevant intelligence, assessment and quantification to comprehend the drivers and impacts on a business. Boards must look beyond the most obvious, and work with stakeholders across their business to identify interconnected risks; examining everything from complex supply chains through to human capital policies and reputational damage, to help protect the company and fulfil its duty of care.
  • Identify and assess. They should employ all the tools available to enable them to collate and interpret the information and then deploy subjective (depth of experience, industry insight, research and analysis) and objective (using analytical tools) assessment to inform the organizations' decision making.
  • Prevent and Protect. As the geopolitical landscape changes, so must the way in which risk leaders protect their businesses. A thorough understanding of the interlinked geopolitical risk drivers and their impacts provides a strong foundation for prevention and protection against them.
  • However, it may not be all gloom and doom. The COVID-19 experience may bring opportunities such as different and more cost-effective ways of working, a more resilient society, larger home markets and more reliable supply chains. Either way boards need to be ready and able to seize the moment and adjust their course appropriately.

    Are we learning from previous experiences at this scale and should we re-thinking what is most likely and what is most dangerous to our business and our well-being? All to be explored in our subsequent articles.

    Each applicable policy of insurance must be reviewed to determine the extent, if any, of coverage for COVID-19. Coverage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. For global client programs it is critical to consider all local operations and how policies may or may not include COVID-19 coverage.

    The information contained herein is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with your own legal and/or other professional advisors. Some of the information in this publication may be compiled by third party sources we consider to be reliable, however we do not guarantee and are not responsible for the accuracy of such information. We assume no duty in contract, tort, or otherwise in connection with this publication and expressly disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any liability in connection with this publication. Willis Towers Watson offers insurance-related services through its appropriately licensed entities in each jurisdiction in which it operates.

    The information given in this publication is believed to be accurate at the date of publication shown at the top of this document. This information may have subsequently changed or have been superseded, and should not be relied upon to be accurate or suitable after this date.




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Head of Emerging Risks Research

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