The Hidden Risk Menacing Businesses

Often, we know the risks facing us. That piece of cake tempting you is full of calories, posing a risk to your weight. Those French fries put your cholesterol at risk. Even at work, we do, or should, recognize various risks – lights out in the parking garage, for example, put employees at risk when they leave after dark.

However, there are those hidden threats that may not ever cross our minds and yet, are no less dangerous or damaging.

The World Economic Forum has released their annual report on global risks. The report looks at various challenges facing society around the world. Some examples have been concerns about water shortages, famine, price collapse, weather, political instability and severe storms. The last two years, the report highlights the threat of economic disparity, leading to social unrest, or dystopia (as in the opposite of utopia).

It is not hard to imagine. There have been riots in countries like Greece, based on economic fears. Adding to the fuel are the constant media reports mentioning the “one-percent” or the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population.
Greek riots - news photo

Throughout history, revolutions have often been based on exactly that kind of wealth imbalance. The French Revolution of the 18th Century is a classic example. There has been a breaking point, in which people oppressed have enough and step up to throw off the yoke and change their governments. Even the American Revolution was sparked by higher taxes to pay for benefits of a government far away.

What does this mean for businesses? If employees feel like they are being left behind, financially, with no raises or decreasing benefits, then there is the real risk of employee dissatisfaction and resentment. Especially if the company is growing or profitable and is not rewarding employees. Various news articles have shown that recent corporate profits, as a percentage of GDP have grown, while wages have stagnated.

This translates into poor morale and decrease in productivity and even elevates the risk of internal theft by some. There is a maxim amongst loss prevention professionals that 10% of people will never steal, 10% will always try to steal and 80% can be swayed either way. Employees who are frustrated with their company are more likely to use that as another way to justify dishonest behavior. That increases the risk that at least some of those employees in the 80% group will embezzle, cheat, steal or just chase away customers.
Aftermath of Greek riots - news photo

Depending on your business, there are lots of ways employees can sabotage you, whether intentionally or not. Poor customer service and poor quality control are some examples. Productivity may drop if employees no longer strive as hard. Employees may even be more prone to ‘sweetheart’ deals and give away product, even to strangers if they are not happy at work, such as giving away coffee at convenience stores.

Business leaders need to pay attention to the potential unrest and make rewarding employees a top priority when the company is successful. If not, you could send a message as Marie Antoinette did when she famously declared, “Let them eat cake” when told her citizens had no food to eat. And we know how that ended – at the guillotine!


Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense.  He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management.  Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces.  To learn more email



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