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But where are 
the People? 
A Research study on key business 
risks in the ASX100
About the research 
Through my work at Cognology I spend most of my life thinking about talent management and 
employee risk. But I wanted to understand how much time other Australian CEOs and CFOs 
spend thinking about their key employee and people risks. So with my team of helpers here at 
Cognology HQ we’ve spent the past few weeks investigating how the largest companies in 
Australia recognise people risks.  
 
To do this, we compiled the most recent annual reports for each of the ASX 100 (the largest 
100 companies in Australia). We were looking at the section where each of these companies 
declare key business and investment risks. Broadly, this section is means to describe all the critical 
risks that investors need to think about when choosing whether to invest money into the 
company or not. 
 
We wanted to see which companies recognized people as a key business risk – and which 
didn’t. I suspected we’d get some variance, and that we’d find some outliers who ignored their 
people all together. But the truth was more astounding. 
If you’ve got questions about this data, or want to learn more about how Cognology helps over 
250 Australian companies manage their talent risk, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 
Kind regards, 
Jon Windust 
CEO – Cognology 
2
3 
Our research identified 
five major groups of 
people risks…
Employee injury or safety risks 
”A death or major injury in the 
workplace would be devastating 
for employees and families and 
could jeopardise the group’s 
reputation as a first-choice 
employer.”  
- Dulux 2013 Annual Report 
4
Retention and attraction of key 
personnel 
”Brambles is subject to the risk of not 
attracting, developing and retaining high-performing 
individuals. Furthermore, 
succession planning may not be managed 
effectively, so that talented individuals are 
able to be developed and promoted within 
the Group, rather than sourced externally. 
This could result in Brambles not having 
sufficient quality and quantity of people to 
meet its growth and business objectives.”  
– Brambles 2014 Annual Report 
5
Inability to execute strategy  
or innovate 
“The risk of failing to develop 
and implement an effective 
business strategy. Failure to do 
so may over time lead to a loss 
of market share, damage to 
our reputation and negatively 
impact our financial 
performance.”  
– Worley Parsons 2013 Annual Report 
6
Non compliance with regulation or 
unethical behaviour 
”There is a risk of non-compliance 
with, or additional 
obligations relating to, legal and 
regulatory obligations and 
expectations which may have a 
negative impact on Woolworths’ 
performance”  
– Woolworths 2013 Annual Report 
7
Industrial relations risks 
“[The risk of] Industrial 
relations activity that 
impacts the Company’s 
ability to meet its 
contractual and customer 
expectations”  
– Asciano 2013 Annual Report 
8
Any guesses on how 
many companies cite 
people as a key 
business risk? ? 
9
50% 
50% 50% 
JUST People risks No people risks 
of Australia’s largest companies 
DECLARE any PEOPLE RELATED RISK in the key business 
risks section of their latest annual report 
Source: ASX 100 annual reports (September 2014) 10
The risk of 
employee injury 
was the most commonly cited 
key people risk (with just 
under 30% of the ASX 100) 
29% 28% 
20% 
% of ASX 100 declaring risk Source: ASX 100 annual reports (September 2014) 11 
14% 
12% 
Employee injury or 
safety risks 
Individual non-compliance 
with 
regulation or unethical 
business practices 
Retention and 
attraction of key 
personnel 
Inability to execute 
strategy or innovate 
Industrial relations risks
CAN YOU BELIEVE Just 
one in five 
Australian companies make the 
connection between talent and the 
share price? 
29% 28% 
20% 
% of ASX 100 declaring risk Source: ASX 100 annual reports (September 2014) 12 
14% 
12% 
Employee injury or 
safety risks 
Individual non-compliance 
with 
regulation or unethical 
business practices 
Retention and 
attraction of key 
personnel 
Inability to execute 
strategy or innovate 
Industrial relations risks
Cognology is an Australian company making Talent Management software for 
the future of work. Over 250 businesses use Cognology to empower cutting 
edge talent strategy. 
We build technology to help our clients with performance, engagement, 
retention and learning for their entire employment lifecycle. Our research and 
development efforts are continually looking for ways to make it easier for our 
customers to execute business strategy, develop their people and do great 
things together. 
Learn more about Cognology at http://www.cognology.com.au/

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People Risks Ignored by Half of ASX100

  • 1. 1 But where are the People? A Research study on key business risks in the ASX100
  • 2. About the research Through my work at Cognology I spend most of my life thinking about talent management and employee risk. But I wanted to understand how much time other Australian CEOs and CFOs spend thinking about their key employee and people risks. So with my team of helpers here at Cognology HQ we’ve spent the past few weeks investigating how the largest companies in Australia recognise people risks. To do this, we compiled the most recent annual reports for each of the ASX 100 (the largest 100 companies in Australia). We were looking at the section where each of these companies declare key business and investment risks. Broadly, this section is means to describe all the critical risks that investors need to think about when choosing whether to invest money into the company or not. We wanted to see which companies recognized people as a key business risk – and which didn’t. I suspected we’d get some variance, and that we’d find some outliers who ignored their people all together. But the truth was more astounding. If you’ve got questions about this data, or want to learn more about how Cognology helps over 250 Australian companies manage their talent risk, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Kind regards, Jon Windust CEO – Cognology 2
  • 3. 3 Our research identified five major groups of people risks…
  • 4. Employee injury or safety risks ”A death or major injury in the workplace would be devastating for employees and families and could jeopardise the group’s reputation as a first-choice employer.” - Dulux 2013 Annual Report 4
  • 5. Retention and attraction of key personnel ”Brambles is subject to the risk of not attracting, developing and retaining high-performing individuals. Furthermore, succession planning may not be managed effectively, so that talented individuals are able to be developed and promoted within the Group, rather than sourced externally. This could result in Brambles not having sufficient quality and quantity of people to meet its growth and business objectives.” – Brambles 2014 Annual Report 5
  • 6. Inability to execute strategy or innovate “The risk of failing to develop and implement an effective business strategy. Failure to do so may over time lead to a loss of market share, damage to our reputation and negatively impact our financial performance.” – Worley Parsons 2013 Annual Report 6
  • 7. Non compliance with regulation or unethical behaviour ”There is a risk of non-compliance with, or additional obligations relating to, legal and regulatory obligations and expectations which may have a negative impact on Woolworths’ performance” – Woolworths 2013 Annual Report 7
  • 8. Industrial relations risks “[The risk of] Industrial relations activity that impacts the Company’s ability to meet its contractual and customer expectations” – Asciano 2013 Annual Report 8
  • 9. Any guesses on how many companies cite people as a key business risk? ? 9
  • 10. 50% 50% 50% JUST People risks No people risks of Australia’s largest companies DECLARE any PEOPLE RELATED RISK in the key business risks section of their latest annual report Source: ASX 100 annual reports (September 2014) 10
  • 11. The risk of employee injury was the most commonly cited key people risk (with just under 30% of the ASX 100) 29% 28% 20% % of ASX 100 declaring risk Source: ASX 100 annual reports (September 2014) 11 14% 12% Employee injury or safety risks Individual non-compliance with regulation or unethical business practices Retention and attraction of key personnel Inability to execute strategy or innovate Industrial relations risks
  • 12. CAN YOU BELIEVE Just one in five Australian companies make the connection between talent and the share price? 29% 28% 20% % of ASX 100 declaring risk Source: ASX 100 annual reports (September 2014) 12 14% 12% Employee injury or safety risks Individual non-compliance with regulation or unethical business practices Retention and attraction of key personnel Inability to execute strategy or innovate Industrial relations risks
  • 13. Cognology is an Australian company making Talent Management software for the future of work. Over 250 businesses use Cognology to empower cutting edge talent strategy. We build technology to help our clients with performance, engagement, retention and learning for their entire employment lifecycle. Our research and development efforts are continually looking for ways to make it easier for our customers to execute business strategy, develop their people and do great things together. Learn more about Cognology at http://www.cognology.com.au/