Data points to rising geopolitical risk in 2024 and need
7 mins read

Data points to rising geopolitical risk in 2024 and need

Data points to rising geopolitical risk in 2024 and need

  • 74% of surveyed risk management experts believe geopolitical tensions will have a significant impact on their organizations in 2024.

  • 47% of global alerts shared with customers by International SOS in 2023 were related to violence and political unrest.

  • 38% of experts believe their organizations are not prepared to respond to social and civil unrest or mitigate its effects.

In the face of an increasingly volatile global landscape, International SOS, a leading global health and safety services company, highlights the need for organisations to address the twin challenges of growing geopolitical risks and the resulting impact on employee mental health and wellbeing. Insights from the International SOS Risk Outlook 2024 report reveal this urgent issue; the perma-crisis environment is taking a significant toll on organisations and individual wellbeing, with 65% of risk professionals agreeing that the world has become more dangerous over the past year, and around three-quarters of them expecting employee mental health to have a significant impact on their organisation this year.1

The global spread of political polarization has also intensified. More than half (53%) of the countries surveyed in the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer report feel more divided than ever, with distrust of government a key factor.2 This distrust extends beyond governments, as data from the International SOS Risk Outlook reveals that employees now trust their employers more than public services as a source of information. Growing polarization can impact workplace dynamics, leading to changes in employee behavior and heightened levels of personal friction. To mitigate these risks, organizations should develop programs to protect their employees, including a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program, have escalation planning in place, and implement policies that clearly define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in the workplace. Early intervention and clear communication can help prevent minor disagreements from escalating.

The relentless cycle of crises not only disrupts operations but also poses risks to employee mental health. Pre-existing demands for better mental health support have become even more urgent as employees face increased stress, anxiety, and burnout due to prolonged exposure to geopolitical tensions, cost-of-living impacts, and uncertainty. Nearly three-quarters of risk professionals expect employee mental health to significantly impact their organizations this year.1 Organizations must address this head-on, understanding and mitigating the often multifaceted impact of geopolitical issues.

Commenting on these issues, Sally Llewllyn, Global Security Director at International SOS, highlights the urgent need to address the risks associated with geopolitical tensions: “The current geopolitical landscape is a perfect storm of interconnected crises that are cascading into global security. Conflicts can erupt with little warning, and political instability can escalate quickly, creating a constantly evolving threat environment. In addition, organizations face the additional challenges of an upcoming wave of global elections. With more than half the world set to hold national elections this year, a wave of disinformation and disinformation could follow. At International SOS, we have witnessed an increased awareness of disinformation and disinformation in recent years, even in places we would not normally see it before.

Dr. Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, Global Health Advisor, Wellness & Mental Health at International SOS, comments: “Periods of geopolitical turmoil can exacerbate employee mental health issues. Organisations play a key role in mitigating this and fostering a culture of trust. Clear and reliable communication can be a key tool in reducing employee stress and anxiety, enabling organisations to build a more resilient and engaged workforce. As we enter the second half of 2024, organisations need to continually monitor evolving risks and proactively anticipate and plan for a range of potential disruptions. Organisations need a multi-layered approach to security that prioritises employee safety, health and wellbeing to better equip them to navigate these challenging times.”

International SOS recommends that organizations adopt the following strategies to help them address growing global geopolitical risks:

  • Enhanced situational awareness of geopolitical changes: Implement a comprehensive intelligence gathering and analysis process specifically tailored to monitoring geopolitical developments. Provide access to real-time, accurate intelligence information coupled with expert insights. Partnering with organizations that offer on-the-ground intelligence and access to security experts allows organizations to gain actionable insights to navigate volatile situations and anticipate potential outcomes.
  • Targeted Crisis Communications: Develop a multi-channel and integrated communications plan tailored to the employee’s location, role, and specific needs during a geopolitical crisis. This system should include text messages, push notifications, and other appropriate channels to maintain constant contact, confirm the employee’s safety, and provide immediate assistance or evacuation if necessary.
  • Scenario Planning: Conduct scenario planning exercises for a variety of high-impact, high-probability geopolitical threats specific to the organization’s global footprint. Use predictive analytics to plan scenarios for most likely, least likely, and best/worst outcomes. This preparation enables organizations to anticipate potential impacts and develop strategies to effectively mitigate risks.
  • Crisis Response Training: Implement a comprehensive crisis response training program that includes interactive workshops, simulations, and e-learning modules to educate employees on geopolitical risks, potential impacts, and response protocols. This should include education on how employees can stay informed and identify disinformation during periods of geopolitical uncertainty.
  • Mental Health Support: Provide easy and confidential access to mental health resources and support programs, including a dedicated Employee Assistance Program hotline and counseling services to help employees manage anxiety, stress, and build resilience. Foster a culture of open communication and encourage employees to seek support if they are struggling with the emotional impact of global events.
  • Continuous adaptation: Conduct a thorough post-incident review to identify what worked and what didn’t in the crisis management process. Create a feedback loop to gather insights from employees at all levels after the crisis to identify areas for improvement in the response strategy, particularly in relation to the effectiveness of communications and support during incidents.
  • About the International SOS Group

    International SOS Group of Companies is dedicated to saving lives and protecting the global workforce from health and safety threats. Wherever you are, we deliver tailored health, safety risk management and well-being solutions to drive your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an outbreak or a security incident, we provide immediate response, providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and high-quality on-site delivery. We help protect your people and your organisation’s reputation, and support your compliance reporting needs. By working with us, organisations can meet their duty of care obligations while strengthening business resilience, continuity and sustainability.

    Founded in 1985, International SOS Group, headquartered in London and Singapore, is trusted by over 9,000 organizations. This includes most of the Fortune Global 500 companies, as well as mid-market businesses, governments, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. Almost 12,000 multicultural experts in security, medical, logistics and digital solutions are available to provide support and assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In total, International SOS employees speak almost 100 languages ​​and dialects in our help centers, clinics and offices.

    To protect your workforce, we are at your disposal:

    1. International SOS | Risk Outlook Report 2024
    2. Edelman | Trust Barometer Global Report 2023