If one of your travelers experienced an emergency, would it completely catch you off guard? Would you be dealing with the situation in “firefighting” mode? With new travel risks emerging every day and Duty of Care laws tighter than ever, HR and risk management professionals must take responsibility for proactively preparing their constituents. If your organization is only prepared to take reactive measures — such as responding to a medical emergency or a political incident overseas when it happens — you may be missing the mark with your travel risk management (TRM) strategy. Follow these steps for incorporating a proactive approach into your travel risk management strategy and know that you’re one step closer to a holistic program:
Take Back Control: Information is power. Distributing destination information to your travelers before they depart is one of the best ways to help protect them while they’re away. A travel risk management provider like On Call International can easily provide you with these resources, or you can do your own research. The details can be both general and customized to your travelers’ needs and should include specific, practical tips for handling a range of situations. This includes all relevant health and safety information, from political unrest, military and terrorist activities, to infectious diseases, vaccination advice, natural disasters, weather conditions, driving rules, using public transportation, and cultural etiquette. If you’re not sure the best way to distribute this information, some of our tried-and-true tactics include destination guides, webinars, lunch and learns, monthly awareness newsletters and more.
Do a Process Review: Conduct a thorough audit of all of your TRM procedures — dysfunctional processes can trigger or worsen an emergency situation, so you want to identify and correct anything that could create delays or add unnecessary layers of complexity. You’ll want to involve your team members in this review, as they’ll be able to fill you in on task-related difficulties and provide you with additional context. Since this can be time-consuming, many organizations choose to work with a third-party firm to review and assess their current processes. Otherwise known as TRM assessments, this is a means of identifying strengths and gaps in current protocols, and creating crisis management policies accordingly. Sound crisis management design can help prevent delays in response or communication missteps that could turn a minor problem into a disaster — while ensuring your key stakeholders understand their roles and how to react during an emergency. For example, we conduct crisis response exercises with our clients to develop and test the strength of their operational protocols. With the help of a live facilitator, this process allows you to understand and test operational procedures before an emergency strikes.
Understand Risk: Another key element of a successful TRM assessment is determining your organization’s travel-risk exposure. While legal risks come to mind when we think of Duty of Care, there are also other people-related, reputational and financial risks to consider:
- Trust and Credibility — uncoordinated, ad-hoc response in the face of an emergency can lead to loss of credibility if travelers perceive you as unwilling to care for them in difficult situations.
- Perceptions and Accountability — external stakeholders could negatively perceive your organization if you fail to provide acceptable support for your travelers. And with today’s intensity of media coverage, these incidents could result in long-term reputational damage – which is very hard to repair once broken!
- Financial Repercussions — medical expenses for overseas treatment, medical or security evacuation and repatriation may first come to mind, but have you also considered the expenses and hassles associated with an interrupted assignment? Even more common travel annoyances— like a missed flight or lost luggage — can be costly and result in unnecessary stress.
Prepare to React: Despite all your best preparations, international travel doesn’t always go according to plan. That’s why emergency assistance is an essential component of any holistic TRM program. But oftentimes, organizations have several policies that cover different aspects of travel. This can result in duplicate benefits, gaps in coverage and overall lack of program awareness and ownership. And at the end of the day, what good is your TRM program if you’re paying for things you don’t need and your travelers don’t even know they have? Partnering directly with a TRM firm like On Call helps you make sense of all this. In addition to benefits education (we want our phone ringing at 2 a.m., not yours!) and customizable program options, we give you more control and direct access to information about what is happening with your travelers. This allows you to cut out the middleman, get enhanced communications and give your travelers the help they need…when they need it. And at the end of the day, who doesn’t want that?
Is your organization prepared to react? If not, we can help. Contact us today.
Tsunami sign from epugachev
Riot from Joanna
Air evacuation from ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd.