For any company, the safety and management of your employees is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to those workers, employees or managers that frequently travel abroad for business. But when it comes to managing the risks of that travel, are you doing enough?
The majority of businesses in the UK might say that they are covering all their bases, but in fact when it comes to a deeper awareness and understanding of the moral, legal and ethical requirements where travel is a frequent feature, many areas can be found lacking.
Changes in business culture, trends in accommodation booking and attitudes to travel have forced business to adopt different approaches to how they handle those risks, working to identify and mitigate threats with proportionate and timely measures. It’s possible to turn a potential Achilles’ Heel into a well-oiled machine in no time.
If you’re efficient in all other areas of your business, why wouldn’t you want the same when it comes to your travel policies and procedures? For travel risk management, these are the foundations to ensure the stability of just about everything else above it.
The Need for Travel Risk Management and Mitigation
A frequent and often-used phrase in just about any business, travel risk management is more than simply filling out paperwork and performing lip service.
It’s the framework that organisations can work from to develop more effective, practical and safe methods of travel, especially when it comes to staff that are frequent flyers, or work in far-flung corners of the globe.
As such, there’s never been more of a need than there is today to ensure that travel risk management is an accepted norm in the daily culture of business operations, rather than an optional add-on. At Alchemy Global, we deploy a specifically designed five-step cycle to ensure every one of those needs are met:
Before other travel responsibilities, it’s important the set the wheels in motion with a strong commitment to travel risk management before the wheels even leave the runway. Ensuring you know who the risk owner is for your travel plan, as well as establishing a risk appetite, are must.
If you’re unsure that you’re doing enough, then training is especially valuable at this point, offering access to initial or refresher training on how best to mitigate and manage all potential risks in a more clear-cut way. Individual training can be expensive and difficult to coordinate for a large workforce, which is why travel e-learning and access to employee training records is often a preferred route. Of course, ensuring that appropriate, commensurate and relevant travel insurance is in place is also necessary prior to any travel – providing safety to your staff and support to your travel plans from day one.
As with any corporate activity, assessment of threat and risks need to be carried out prior to travel. Not only must this include general risks based on the country or city of travel, but any robust risk assessment should also include all aspects of the individual’s work and role within their capacity for travel. This individual risk profile helps to ensure a higher level of safety, ensuring better managed and mitigated risk.
Once a business has a solid understanding of the risks involved in travel, putting a formal approval process in place that can be audited is the next step. Depending on the size and displaced nature of an organisation, there can be a multitude of different responsibilities that can come under this process. A trip might need to be approved by a local or regional security manager, it might require a telephone briefing or to involve other specialists.
From approval for trips to informed decision-making, as well as providing the traveller with safeguarding information and relevant insurance cover, alongside internal concerns such as prohibited activities and violations of company policy.
Following approval, what’s the next step you need to take to ensure the best possible risk mitigation for your traveller? Though this may vary according to risk level, having a firm understanding of their requirements, the ability to dispense valuable advice and insight into local support and information are all vital for successful deployment.
At Alchemy Global, we know deployment is often the first stage in which businesses can feel they’re losing their grip on their employees, and are unable to offer them the same level of support. But utilising local partners, as well as complimentary systems that confirm the location of workers, can take the guesswork out of travel, and provide up-to-date information on threats, risk levels and protocols.
Open lines of contact, upholding safety protocols, intelligence and fielding everyday concerns are as much a part of travel risk management as any large events and should be catered to appropriately by offering the correct level of support and management. Businesses can go further by ensuring all these needs are morally, and legally met.
Of course, those potential disasters should be considered – from triaging a workforce with mass communications, knowing what to do in an emergency or even understand the media impact of a situation – but the moral and legal obligations for an organisation should spread far further than simply looking at the worst-case scenario.
How businesses can do more
You might be on-board with making amends to the way your business handles travel risks, but the next step is to implement those new procedures practically and effectively. Creating a plan on how to begin to approach any concerns about risk factors when travelling abroad is an excellent place to start, and is the perfect way for businesses to build a greater understanding.
An understanding of the risk factors included in that work can provide a foundation to build on when it comes to introducing more streamline and appropriate methods of risk management. Of course, not all risks are of equal level, with issues like kidnapping or espionage always essential to consider but far more unlikely to occur. It’s important to have a plan in place for all eventualities, not just the ones that can cause the most harm.
Setting yourself up for success
As with any other specialist requirement, choosing to partner with a travel risk management external support team could offer the ideal way for a business to integrate new processes into your existing ones, allowing for the inclusion of safeguarding and legally required services without disrupting current procedures and routines.
To set yourself up for success, employing an outside team is very often the best choice. For many businesses with variable needs, it can allow for the flexibility and scalability needed to perform under ebbs and flows in the level of safeguarding and management required, ensuring that needs are met no matter what the scenario – from the loss of baggage to access to reliable off-site communications.
One poignant example for where an internal team may struggle with the broader commitment of running mitigation and risk management is during large-scale relocations or even natural disasters, in which the requirements for a service will spike, from access to on-point care and support to the management of communications and even the location of workers and staff.
A mistake many businesses make is assuming they can do it all better themselves – after all, they know the turf, they know their workers, and above all, they know their business. While this may all be true, if that business is not equipped to handle a wide range of risk management requirements, they aren’t equipped to offer their employees, executives or associates with the best duty of care and safety during travel.
For businesses that take travel risk management seriously, the rewards are soon made apparent, from the smoother internal control of processes to increased morale and safety amongst the most at-risk staff in their employ.
The tools you need to go further
They say that a workman is only as good as his tools. But with an outsourced risk management team, you gain not only the tools but the skills behind them too. As it is a specialist area, often doing what’s best for your business means putting it in the hands of the experts, and trusting them to do the job above and beyond in-house capabilities.
Of course, with the evolution of technology globally, there’s never been more ways to keep in contact, stay in communication or know the location of the people you work with, wherever they are in the world. To stay ahead, it’s important to understand the impact of technology as part of any form of business travel; both its benefits and its downsides.
From simple queries and concerns to full-scale crisis intervention, having the right technology for the job can mean the difference between providing the care an employee needs and failing to watch out for them in the required ways, morally or legally. For any business, ensuring that support is integral, not only to morale but to fulfil their obligation to support those in their care.
With the correct tools at your disposal, that technology can work to your advantage, offering you unparalleled access to information that helps keep your employees, workers and executives in your sights. Not only can you fulfil your obligations both legally and morally, but you can also offer peace of mind with reliable technology that is proven to work.
There’s no modern business out there today that hasn’t used technology to its advantage in some way or other, so taking hold of the functionalities to help ensure your duty of care to your employees is covered is a small price to pay to lower the level of unexpected risk to those in the care of your company.
Travel safety course
Do you have people in your company who travel for business? Cardinus’ Director of Security, Andy Neal will be hosting a Travel Safety course on 11th October in London where he will be providing practical travel advice, guidance and recommendations for frequent travellers, both domestic and international. Tickets are available from £150. Book your tickets here.