Does your organization have robust travel risk management strategies, policies and procedures to fulfill your duty of care obligations? Here are three key ways to improve traveler safety and protect your business and reputation.
Although business travel has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels—and is not expected to until late 2024 or early 2025—organizations should establish a travel risk management plan that accounts for the new and emerging risks facing today’s corporate travelers. The plan is critical to fulfilling businesses’ duty of care obligations and ensuring organizations can keep employees safe, no matter their destination or mode of transportation.
However, there are still relatively few universal benchmarks for travel risk management best practices. One is the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) ISO 30130 standard for travel risk management. It provides guidance on duty of care obligations, some of which still differ from country to country. To keep their business, reputation and workforce secure, companies have to understand the improvements they can make for stronger traveler safety, wherever employees are headed.
Here, we explore travel risk management with the aim of protecting both employees and reputation.
Legal and ethical obligations for safe travel
There are very few precise requirements for duty of care and corporate travel protection. However, there are some proven practices that, if followed, can help ensure organizations meet their obligations for legal and ethical care:
- Conduct a travel risk assessment of relevant regions to better understand their potential threats
- Inform all employees of duty of care responsibilities and travel safety measures, including what they can do to reduce travel risk
- Have a clear process for contacting, informing and checking up on employees if they’re at risk. Ensure the right resources are available and ready to execute next steps
- Know the location of traveling employees so you can assess nearby risks
- Provide travel and health insurance for employees before departure
Reinforcing employee responsibility is particularly important. Employees should fully understand potential travel risks and the role they play in maintaining their safety. It’s critical that this be included in travel risk assessments and plans. If employees carry out tasks without the right protection, especially in an unfamiliar region or environment, organizations could be held liable.
3 ways to improve duty of care and travel protections
Our post-pandemic world is presenting an increasing amount of ever-evolving risks to employee safety and security. This, coupled with vague business travel requirements, means organizations have additional pressure to enhance their travel risk management strategies and plans. Below are some recommendations for how to do so effectively.
When developing a travel risk management strategy and response plan, be sure to take into consideration geopolitical and socioeconomic risks as well as those that may be endemic to specific countries, such as disease, storms, droughts and toxic chemicals.
Access to real-time information makes it easier to detect and respond to these potential threats—ensuring organizations know about them as soon as they happen. As a result, they can better protect their employees before, during and after travel, wherever employees are in the world.
Knowledge of employees’ pre-existing physical and mental health conditions—asthma, allergies, depression, heart conditions—allows organizations to better support those employees in times of crisis. Tread lightly and rely on HR partners as there are many rules and regulations around what health information companies can ask for and what employees are and are not required to disclose and to whom.
Additionally, review mandatory vaccinations employees may need when traveling to certain countries. Malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis and typhoid fever are among the biggest threats internationally. Organizations should help employees meet vaccination requirements before departure to ensure they’re safe from potential illness.
It’s important to clearly communicate, as transparently as possible, who is responsible for what expenses and under which circumstances. If someone has to be isolated in a hotel or be treated at a hospital, who pays? The same question holds true for vehicle and equipment rentals. If compensation policies are not widely and clearly communicated, organizations expose themselves to legal ramifications and some employees may have difficulty accessing resources.
While business travel hasn’t yet rebounded to pre-pandemics levels, there are signs that a full recovery is imminent. According to Morgan Stanley’s survey on global corporate travel, approximately 25% of large and small companies say that their organizations have already reached pre-pandemic travel levels. And, nearly 50% of the respondents say they expect their 2023 budgets to surpass their budgets in 2019, pre-COVID-19.
Nonetheless, organizations should ensure they have clear travel risk management strategies, policies and procedures in place now to better protect employees and secure company data and assets. Success hinges on organizations’ ability to continually assess and update strategies, policies and procedures to keep pace with the growing list of business travel risks—from cyber attacks and geopolitical uncertainty to an expected rise in health risks.
Learn how Dataminr Pulse for Corporate Security helps organizations like yours ensure duty of care and the safety of employees traveling for business.