Issues arising from the pandemic have climbed to the top of the list of risks facing businesses in Ireland, according to the 2021 Global Risk Management Survey from the professional services firm, Aon.

The survey of thousands of executives across 60 countries and territories is conducted every two years.

There are some significant shifts in the kinds of issues facing firms compared to 2019, when the survey was last conducted prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic globally.

An economic slowdown or a slow recovery registered as the second biggest risk facing Irish firms, the study showed, followed by increased commodity price risk and scarcity of raw materials.

Supply chain disruption and the knock-on impact on business came in at number five.

The top five issues listed by firms as the biggest risks to their businesses arise directly or indirectly from the pandemic.

The global supply chain shortage and the associated rise in input cost and consumer price inflation has impacted consumers and businesses alike across most economies in the world.

Pandemic risk and health crises generally jumped from number sixtieth on the list of global risks in 2019 to number seven on the list of global risks and number nine on the list of current risks facing Irish organisations in 2021.

"The top 10 risks identified by Irish business leaders within our Global Risk Management Survey strongly reflect the lingering impact of the pandemic, growing uncertainty linked to climate change and the obstacles that lie ahead as firms continue to recover, innovate and grow," Peter Brady, CEO of Commercial Risk & Health Solutions at Aon in Ireland said.

Cyber-risks top the list

Cyber-attacks top the list for current and future risks for businesses in Ireland, the report shows.

The increased reliance on technology arising from the shift to remote working during the pandemic coincided with a dramatic increase in the incidence of ransomware attacks over the last two years.

The report says the incidence of such attacks increased by 400% over the last two years.

Cyber-risk was also the number one current and predicted future risk globally, its highest ranking since the survey began in 2007.

When it comes to future risks, the failure to attract and retain top talent came in high on the list for Irish businesses.

Concerns have been growing over the shortage of skilled individuals in various industries.

There has also been an anecdotal shift in employee sentiment since the pandemic with more workers changing jobs or careers amid what's become known as the 'Great Resignation'.

Some of this may be attributed to the labour shortages, which is seeing more workers availing of the opportunity to take up better paid positions or roles that offer greater flexibility for a better work-life balance.

"As the pandemic has highlighted, business risk can rapidly move from a distant concern to an immediate business threat," Peter Brady said.

"That's why there is a need for Irish businesses to address these 'known unknowns.' As we face unprecedented events, the challenge will be how to best develop solutions to properly prepare for and manage through them," he added.