Businesses juggle a plethora of worries posed by COVID-19

Businesses across the UK are concerned about a wide range of ways in which COVID-19 could affect their organisations, from health & safety, bad debts, employee wellbeing, and cybercrime, according to a survey of over 1,000 owners and directors.

Gallagher commissioned independent research to understand how the pandemic is affecting firms and their outlook for the future. The report found that respondents cited concerns, in particular challenges regarding health and safety, debts, employee wellbeing and cyber risk. However, some businesses felt that COVID-19 has presented unexpected opportunities which will result in changes for the better over the longer term.

Among the key findings were that 52% of respondents are concerned about being sued due to someone becoming ill on their premises, with 45% feeling unprepared for the health and safety measures that need to be put in place. Mid-size businesses of between 500-999 employees were the most concerned.

Neil Hodgson, managing director of Gallagher Risk Management Solutions, said: “When it comes to protecting customers and avoiding public liability claims, businesses need to be able to demonstrate they have followed the government guidelines in terms of ensuring only a certain number of customers are in the premises at any one time and social distancing can be followed.” He added that businesses need to keep abreast of current advice – and future changes – and keep a paper trail of risk assessments to evidence the actions taken.

63% of businesses say they are expecting to see an increase in bad debts, with 30% stating that customer insolvencies are a major threat to their organisation now the economy is restarting. The wellbeing of employees and managing their return to the workplace also ranks highly as a concern to businesses, with 60% of large employees admitting that this is their biggest worry. Meanwhile, for those whose staff continue to work remotely, cyber risk has become a greater concern than ever. While 80% expect to continue to increase remote working, 54% say that cyber risk has increased.

But there are positives too, with a large number of businesses seeing some of the enforced changes as a good chance to reassess their operations and change priorities for the better. Over half (52%) say that COVID-19 will present them with opportunities, while almost a third (31%) expect to expand into new product areas. A similar number of respondents say that their product or service has become more relevant post COVID-19.

Kathryn Moon, sales director for Gallagher, said: “It’s good to see that many businesses are turning the challenge into an opportunity. Innovation is the lifeblood of business and it’s clear that leaders recognise that to remain successful, they need to be agile and open to change.”

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