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Technical crises taking significant personal toll on UK business leaders

It would seem that downtime doesn’t just affect the bottom line. A new study has revealed the scale of the battle UK business leaders face when business disruption hits, as a staggering 54% admit to suffering from stress-related illnesses and/or damage to their mental well-being in the aftermath of cyberattacks, IT outages or network failures.

In today’s hyper-connected world, with the C-Suite inextricably tied up with brand identity, research from Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) highlights the extent to which senior executives are linked to their company’s resilience.

Findings from the study of 250 C-Suite respondents in companies with 500+ employees in the UK, found 49% of CEOs have suffered from stress-related illnesses and/or damage to their mental well-being, rising to 62% amongst CIOs/CTOs.

One of the contributing factors to the stress-related illnesses and damage to business leaders’ mental well-being is the backlash that they are receiving, both online and in person.

Almost half of respondents (45%) state that they experience abuse online or verbally, and in some cases even physical threats.

Alarmingly, a fifth (20%) say that this criticism extends to their family and friends who also receive abuse verbally and/or physically. The results demonstrate why more must be done to instil resiliency in UK businesses today and aid leaders across with their personal responses in times of disruption more effectively.

“This research has identified a new Resilience Imperative, the personal impact on the individuals involved,” commented Kathy Schneider, chief marketing officer at Sungard AS.

“The lost business, costs to repair what is broken, and the reputational damage have not only a business impact, but a personal impact.

“Many business leaders are suffering from stress-related illness or damage to their mental wellbeing when disruption happens. Boards within organisations must take a long hard look at their company’s approach to resilience today.”

Companies have long known the financial and reputational impact of crises, and this research has revealed the negative personal impact it can have on a firm’s leadership.

Over one in five (22%) respondents state that a result of suffering cyberattacks, IT outages or network failures, have resulted in a CEO departure.

Findings from the study also highlight the financial impact of crises and how a lack of resilience in the face of a crisis can impact leadership capabilities:

  • The average UK organisation now reports a loss of £1,411,148 annually due to downtime
  • 30% of respondents admitted strategic decisions become more difficult to make
  • 24% stated it becomes harder to provide a clear direction for business, and puts the future of their job into question.

“Nobody wants to suffer a crisis on their watch,” added Kathy. “We’ve seen the personal toll already in other instances of CEO’s exiting their role as a result of being unable to protect their businesses from technology crises.

“Companies need to be agile, available and secure at all times to ensure the success of their business and the welfare of employees. 

“Having a resilient mindset, a plan in place, and the technological know-how to weather different IT storms will ensure companies of all sizes adhere to the Resilience Imperative.”

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