In today’s post-pandemic era, social and human service organizations are exposed to several risks. Organizations without proper risk management plans are susceptible to events that could lead to massive costs or, worse, entirely shut down an agency’s operations. To avoid such catastrophic events, it is crucial to implement an enterprise risk management plan that addresses key risk areas affecting an organization’s clients, employees, volunteers, and overall organizational safety.

A well-rounded risk management program focuses on internal and external threats and should be a collaborative, cross-functional and a big-picture effort.  A risk management team can be small but should work with the business’ leaders and staff to keep them informed.  The first step of the process is to identify the risks that the organization faces, and this challenge will be more manageable with open and honest communication among clients, staff, volunteers, and the board.  After those risks have been identified, the next step is to determine what strategies will be used to mitigate those risks.  Examples could include formal written policies and training programs that happen at key times throughout the year.

Here are some key areas of risk facing human services organizations today:

  • Abuse and molestation, especially regarding youth clients and other at-risk populations. Allegations of sexual abuse involving employees, volunteers, or director and officers can have catastrophic consequences for your organization.
  • Another emerging risk is cyber liability. As more social service agencies use databases to maintain records of members, clients, volunteers, and donations- cyber exposures will continue to increase. Cyberattacks are expected to cost the world $10.5trillion annually by 2025 according to Cyber Magazine.
  • Fleet management and auto liability can make up a large piece of the total risk. While important for transporting volunteers, hosting successful events, and carrying out other organizational tasks, the improper use of a vehicle can lead to potential accidents and major insurance claims. Furthermore, if you allow employees and volunteers to use their own vehicles for work, standard auto policies are often insufficient and lacking.

These are just a sample of the risks facing human services organizations.  The potential likelihood of risk as well as the severity exposure can vary heavily from organization to organization which is why it’s important to periodically conduct these risk assessments internally or using a third party.  We will be covering a number of these as well as more emerging concerns within our blog and webinar series for social and human services organizations over the next few months.

Please reach out to a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) Advisor for more information on how we can assist with getting your risk management program off the ground, help to enhance current practices, or facilitate discussions with your stakeholders.

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