Duty of Care is a hot topic these days that no company can afford to ignore. In a nutshell, duty of care is the moral and legal responsibility companies have to keep their employees safe when traveling for business. What does that responsibility include? Everything from catastrophic events such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, to incidents such as a car accident or medical emergency. In the event of such an emergency, would your employees know who to call for help?
According to the Global Business Travel Association, 54% of employees on international business trips have no contact number they can use in case of an emergency. Don’t think your employees travel to high-risk destinations that warrant concern? Remember, duty of care also includes cancelled flights, lost or stolen laptops, and those finicky yet all important details such as whether your car rental insurance covers international destinations.
54% of employees on international business trips have no contact number they can use in case of an emergency.
Why does all of this matter? Not only is duty of care an indication that you are concerned for the safety and well-being of your employees, but because without it you leave your employees vulnerable and your company exposed to claims of negligence. Think about this: according to GBTA, 52% of employees would consider taking legal action against their company if they felt they weren’t properly supported while traveling.
Avoid Problems with Advance Planning: 4 Things You Should be Doing
1. Implement a Travel Policy
Every company, regardless of its size or travel spend, should have a comprehensive travel policy in place. This policy should be tailored to fit your company’s needs. Start by evaluating how and where your employees travel. Do they travel at home or abroad? Are they going to high-risk areas? (FYI, high-risk includes not only the potential for violent crime or political upheaval, but also concerns such as Zika and computer hacking.)
Once you’ve finished your evaluation, put in place policies that suit the needs of your travelers. Remember to consider your company’s culture in relation to risk management. What’s your company’s policy on executives traveling together on the same plane? How does your company feel about companion travel and mixing business travel with vacation time? What about Airbnb and Uber, do you consider these to be safe options for your travelers?
2. Reduce the Risk
Like so much else in life, it’s better to stop a problem before it starts. Mitigate risk and empower your employees with pre-travel training. This includes providing them with destination briefs, educating them about safe travel practices, making sure they know how to access and use the tools and services you provide for them, and keeping them updated with the latest information about security and health risks.
In addition, think through the risks specific to how and where your employees travel. Are your employees flying overnight, only to jump in a car and drive in rush-hour traffic? Do they have the necessary visas and vaccinations for their destination? Are they traveling to areas where their laptop or smart phone may be vulnerable to hacking? These are all scenarios where advanced planning can make a big impact on the well-being of your travelers, and your company.
3. Know Where Your Travelers Are
Always know where your travelers are with traveler tracking. Booking outside established guidelines means you may not know which flights they are on or where they are staying. Depending on where your employees travel, their preferences and your company’s culture, this can be as broad as the submission of a detailed itinerary, or as specific as real-time GPS mobile tracking. Regardless of the method, monitoring should always include automatic mobile alerts for weather, travel changes and emergencies.
4. Provide 24/7 Assistance
Make sure your travelers have the help they need with 24/7 assistance. Whether it’s a last-minute change to an itinerary, a medical emergency or a lost passport, your employees should always know who to call. Depending on where your employees travel, you might also need a travel service that provides translations, emergency medical transportation or on-the-ground local assistance. Of course, the second part of 24/7 assistance is having emergency response plans in place. If a traveler was to report a stolen laptop, would your IT department know how to quickly secure your servers? If a traveler had a medical emergency, would you know how to contact their family?
Duty of Care is a broad term that covers a wide variety of scenarios, but you don’t have to go it alone. In April of 2017, when a truck drove into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm, one of Travel Leaders Group’s clients had 18 employees staying at a hotel across the street. Immediately they were able to contact the travelers, confirm their safety and report back to the grateful administrative team in the U.S. This is just one example of how outsourcing all or part of a risk management program can help ease some of the stress of travel management. Travel Leaders Group can not only advise you on the best way ensure you always know where your clients are, but also we can handle all aspects of ensuring your company is equipped to handle emergencies that impact your traveling employees.