Counting the personal cost of business disruption

A new study has highlighted the scale of the battle UK business leaders face when business disruption hits, as 54% admit to suffering from stress-related illnesses or damage to their mental wellbeing in the aftermath of cyber attacks, IT outages or network failures.

Research from Sungard Availability Services highlights the extent to which senior executives are linked to their company’s resilience. Findings from the study of 250 C-Suite respondents in companies with 500+ employees in the UK, found 49% of CEOs have suffered from stress-related illnesses and/or damage to their mental wellbeing, a figure which rises to 62% among CIOs/CTOs.

One of the contributing factors to the stress-related illnesses and damage to business leaders’ mental well-being is the backlash that they can receive, both online and in person. Almost half of respondents (45%) state that they experience abuse online or verbally, and in some cases even physical threats. One fifth (20%) say that this criticism extends to their family and friends who also receive abuse verbally or physically. The results demonstrate why more must be done to instil resiliency in UK businesses and more effectively aid leaders across with their personal responses in times of disruption.

Kathy Schneider, chief marketing officer at Sungard AS, said:“This research has identified a new resilience imperative, the personal impact on the individuals involved. The lost business, costs to repair what is broken, and the reputational damage have not only a business impact, but a personal impact. Many business leaders are suffering from stress-related illness or damage to their mental wellbeing when disruption happens and boards within organisations must take a long hard look at their company’s approach to resilience today.”

Companies have long known the financial and reputational impact of crises, and this research has revealed the negative personal impact it can have on a firm’s leadership. More than one in five (22%) respondents state that a result of suffering cyberattacks, IT outages or network failures, have resulted in a CEO departure.

Other findings from the study also highlight the financial impact of crises and how a lack of resilience in the face of a crisis can impact leadership capabilities. The average UK organisation now reports a loss of £1,411,148 annually due to downtime, with 30% of respondents admitting that a lack of resilience makes strategic decisions more difficult to make. 24% also said it becomes harder to provide a clear direction for business, and puts the future of their job into question

“Nobody wants to suffer a crisis on their watch,” added Schneider. “We’ve seen the personal toll already in other instances of CEO’s exiting their role as a result of being unable to protect their businesses from technology crises. Companies need to be agile, available and secure at all times to ensure the success of their business and the welfare of employees."

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