Organizational crises remain a pervasive threat to performance and business continuity. Among the list of such crises, those pertaining to organizational staffing take the centre stage. People risks come in many forms. In all cases of people risks, HR plays a leading role in protecting against and mitigating any potential damage, minimizing losses, avoiding disruption and doing a lot more. It is, therefore, imperative that HR should have a well-oiled plan A and plan B in case a crisis strikes and if the original plan does not respond. The onus rests with HR to devise people risk management plans with the aim of providing support to the senior leadership, clients, vendors, employees and other stakeholders. Let us look at the top seven people-related risks that HR faces:

1. Critical skills shortage: Workforce planning and risk management are the two sides of the same HR coin; they go hand-in-hand. This is because not having the right people in place with the right skills will seriously hamper an organization’s ability to compete, innovate, and grow. Any HR red book on survival would first list the workforce planning strategy followed, along with supporting data and analysis.

2. Succession planning: Investing time and money in leadership development and creating a pipeline for the future insulates the organization from any business eventuality, such as a hostile takeover or an internal coup. More importantly, HR’s move in this regard will help in succeeding to break the ivory walls built by the C-Suite.

3. Insurance and data: Organising employee benefits and making sure insurance benefits are correctly in place is an important HR prerogative. Wrong data or incorrect disclosure often have the habit of spreading like wild fire and bring down years of efforts and credibility carefully nurtured by HR.

4. Ethics and behaviour: Many of the scandals arise due to unethical behaviour. In fact, breaches that occur due to lack of ethical behaviour are the most difficult to recover from.

5. Intellectual property loss or violation: If staff is involved in handling sensitive data, HR needs to make sure that they are fully engaged in this through induction, compliance, and training. In fact, it is incumbent on HR to ensure that there are no loopholes in the hiring process and that no potential fraudsters join the rolls.

6. M&A risk: Many of the risks associated with M&A will continue to haunt HR. From due diligence to employment law, HR has to contend with a lot of legalese, including making sure that the new staff feel cared for and engaged, sorting out training and induction programmes and dealing with any mediation, etc.

7. Communication: HR has a responsibility to communicate the organization’s goals with the internal and external stakeholders. The communication should be periodic and should cover all aspects HR activity, including supervision, hiring, conduct, etc., and how each contributes toward the goal. In fact, HR’s communication is an important tool for ensuring that there is buy-in from all who are involved in the organization (staff, volunteers, clients, and other relevant stakeholders).