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9 types of workplace threats to know about in 2022 and beyond

Learn which common workplace threats to look out for and how to keep your business safe.

Amy Kirkham
By Amy Kirkham Content Marketing Manager

Workplace security threats are inevitable. As the workplace gets smarter and savvier, so too do the threats that jeopardize your workplace security. In Splunk’s State of Security 2022 report, 90% of organizations have increased their focus on external threats. This includes cyber attacks, supply chain disruption, natural disasters, and more. And the statistics don’t stop there. Over 79% of businesses have experienced ransomware attacks in the last year, while 49% have suffered a data breach over the past two years. 

It’s obvious that securing your workplace must be a top priority. Doing so protects employees from serious physical and financial harm. It also protects your workplace from more hidden security threats, like phishing and cyber attacks. 

To prepare for a critical workplace threat, you first need to identify the different risks you face. To help, we’ve listed some common workplace threats to prepare for today and beyond.

1. Supply chain disruption

Who hasn’t heard of the supply chain disruption this year? According to a 2022 survey by Blue Yonder, 88% of businesses faced disruption last year due to supply chain issues. 

Companies and their leaders should continually assess and manage supply chain risks. Supply chain disruption isn’t going away anytime soon–especially due to Covid-19, labor shortages and geopolitical events. So it’s important to conduct regular supply chain vulnerability assessments and establish a risk-management plan of action.

2. Cyber attacks 

Cyber attacks are on the rise. According to a 2021 Accenture report, there were an average of 270 cyber attacks per company last year, a rise of over 30% from the previous year. It’s clear that cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Yet, despite this increase, 78% of leaders are still unsure how or when a cybersecurity incident will affect their organization.

Preventing cyber attacks isn’t impossible, but it does require work. Companies must understand their cybersecurity vulnerabilities to safeguard against a cyber attack. Risks might be privilege abuse, data mishandling, unapproved hardware and software, or email misuse.

Communicating cyber threats to employees is also crucial to increase awareness and prevention. Phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents. They can be difficult to spot. For example, your employees might receive an email from someone claiming to be the CEO, asking for money or personal information. Training people how to respond will help them be more cautious and aware of what and who they interact with.

3. Health threats

Health security became the unexpected face of workplace security in 2020 due to COVID-19. Companies had to act quickly and rethink how they operate to ensure their teams were able to continue to work without risking illness. 

Now, as we move further away from the pandemic, health threats are still very prevalent. According to research by Duke University, disease outbreaks will likely grow three-fold in the next few decades. Companies must prepare for these situations by having business continuity plans and mitigation strategies in place. To do that, leaders must invest in the tools that automate and standardize the enforcement of health protocols.

4. Workplace incidents 

As more people navigate being back onsite, the risk of workplace incidents increases. This includes things like accidents at work, bullying, or verbal and physical harassment. Left unchecked, the consequences of workplace incidents can be severe. 

Organizations should implement regular training for both employees and executives to identify and respond to different workplace incidents. Ensure procedures are in place for reporting any workplace incidents, as well as policies to tackle each event quickly.

5. Natural disaster or extreme weather

Natural disasters don’t spare workplaces when they strike. While these events are impossible to control or predict, companies can prepare to withstand a natural emergency and the hazards that may result. 

Having emergency supply kits and practicing evacuation plans with employees are a couple of simple ways to keep people safe. Failing to prepare for a natural disaster could put personnel at risk, disrupt workplace operations, and result in irrecoverable economic costs.

6. Theft of physical or intellectual property

The most plain security threats may be those to a company’s physical and intellectual property. This can include anything from patents and employee know-how to trade secrets, laptops, and physical documents. 

Organizations should remind employees to keep their important physical and intellectual property safe. Theft is often committed by unsavory characters who enter your workplace without being noticed. So it’s important to invest in a workplace access and visitor management tool to keep track of who is entering the building.

7. IT failure of a business-critical system

Hardware or software failures, accidental damage, network communication issues, or some other business-critical IT failure can do lasting damage to a business. At the very least, it can be time-consuming, expensive, and challenging to reverse. 

There’s no way you can predict every IT failure that may happen, but with the right preventative measures in place, you can certainly minimize the impact. Regularly analyzing your systems for any weaknesses can be effective at highlighting any potential areas for failure. Equally, ensure your in-house IT team is equipped with the right resources and trained to respond quickly and learn from failures.

8. Brand and reputation crises 

Brand reputation directly ties to a company’s market value. What may take years to grow can tarnish overnight. Nowadays, it can be a single tweet that takes a company down. Risks can come from any part of the business, including unethical suppliers, partners, and employees—even competition. Communicating to your employees the do’s and don’t, particularly on social media, can help mitigate some of these risks.

9. Utility outage

Utility outages are hazardous at worst and inconvenient at best. In today’s modern workscape, a utility outage could cause major communication issues among employees, customers, and partners. In many cases, utility outages are preventable with preparation and training.

Prevention and mitigation planning are both important to effectively minimize disruptions from workplace threats. Organizations need to be able to identify emerging problems before they become full-blown threats. Doing so also helps minimize damage caused by a workplace threat.

Learn how to create your security plan in the workplace preparedness playbook.

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Amy Kirkham
Author Bio Amy Kirkham

Amy is a content guru at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, you can usually find Amy drinking coffee, exploring new places, or planning her next trip.