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Lack of employee foreign travel risk awareness training revealed

Karel van de Pijpekamp

International SOS reveal the results of the 2017 Business Impact of Travel Risk survey. Comment from Karel van de Pijpekamp, Managing Director Northern Europe at International SOS.

Key findings, from the survey of European executives, include that travel security risk mitigation programmes are undermined by a lack of effective communication, with 70 percent of respondents planning to address this in 2017, and 60 percent have only a partial or no understanding at all of medical threats faced by their mobile workforce. Karel van de Pijpekamp, Managing Director Northern Europe at International SOS comments, “While organisations have medical and travel security risks high on the agenda, the survey demonstrates that a rigorous implementation and an on-going communication process is key to ensuring programmes are utilised effectively.  This highlights potential cost and business continuity risks if travel security issues aren’t managed successfully due to a lack of communication. It also highlights a possible gap in Duty of Care when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of mobile workforces.” 

Information and communication during crisis
With the troubling events of 2016, organisations have increasingly become aware of the challenges in protecting their people and the potential issues in their travel risk mitigation programmes.  The respondents report the greatest challenges in mitigating travel risks during recent crisis were:

Over 40% of European organisations had difficulties with access to information and communicating with their staff in 2016. Respondents plan the following actions to mitigate risk of their mobile workforce in 2017:

Xavier Carn Regional Security Director for Europe at International SOS and Control Risks, said: “Should another major travel security incident occur tomorrow, 27% organisations declared they were still moderately to not confident in their level of preparedness. Testing both plans and procedures are a critical success factor of travel risk management to ensure the continuity of the business. It is essential for decision-makers to have a reliable and up to date source of objective information2 to help them implement travel risk policies and individual travel plans. Recent crisis like Brussels, Tunisia, Turkey or even Berlin have also demonstrated that emergency communications must be robust and our advice is to ensure these are multi-channel3 so that people affected by a crisis can receive and request the information they need to reduce their exposure to associated risks.” 

Organisations challenged to know better how well their mobile workforce is
Despite the fact organisations have mobile workforce risk management high on their agenda (64% of respondents), 60% have only a partial or no understanding at all of medical threats and hazards faced by their mobile workforce, and more than half don’t have health and wellbeing programmes in place.

Dr Mark Parrish, Regional Medical Director – at International SOS commented: “Organisations understand the link between worker wellbeing, absenteeism rate and long term productivity, (66% of the respondents) but only 39% have a wellness programme in place despite the fact that wellbeing is likely to become increasingly important in the future and translates into better business outcomes.”

“Preventing an infectious outbreak, an accident or sufferings is crucial for an organisation. Promoting wellbeing at work and having a return to work procedure is also its responsibility to ensure the continuity of the business. Today, we see a need for the occupational safety and health practitioners to understand and implement global health risk plans within their organisation. Most organisations do something about health risks assessment and management but usually in a fairly ad hoc, uncoordinated way. The process should start with having a comprehensive review of what is done for the mobile workforce from an occupational health, sickness absence, health communication, employee health and wellness perspective.”

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