When travel plans go smoothly, it's easy to forget just how complicated things can get when the unexpected occurs. In today's unpredictable international landscape, travellers face a variety of risks, ranging from cybercrime to natural disasters, and everything that falls in between. Canadian employers have the legal and moral responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees, even if they're halfway around the world.
As a travel program stakeholder, it’s important to ask: is your travel program equipped to locate and extract travellers from dangerous situations on a global scale? Duty of care responsibilities create the need for systems and tools that give you the ability to pinpoint employee locations in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, infectious disease outbreak or any other unexpected event.
Your organization requires an established plan to provide duty of care to all travellers. Your strategy should incorporate logical policy supported by optimized technology.
How your policy supports duty of care
The ability to locate travelling employees is a challenge from an administrative standpoint. Stakeholders must possess a clear understanding of risk, determine how they respond to varying degrees of risk, and create a travel policy which supports those measures by providing direction to your travellers. As a starting point, a thorough risk assessment can highlight important areas of concern and help stakeholders understand the varying levels of risk which could impact travellers.
For example, a risk assessment may reveal that a significant portion of travellers book trips outside of your organization’s approved channels, reducing your visibility into their movements and your ability to support them. Without access to traveller itineraries, program stakeholders have no way of knowing when employees are in the air, where they are staying, or how they move between locations. Therefore, leadership needs to determine if it will mandate certain booking channels or develop another strategy for reducing off-policy bookings.
Your assessment should identify and address all of the ways in which your organization may lose transparency into traveller whereabouts. With a complete picture of potential risks, stakeholders can then allocate resources toward increasing transparency and program adherence rates.
Using technology to support duty of care
Imagine your phone buzzing on your desk with an emergency notification. A violent storm has made landfall somewhere on the other side of the world, flooding a major city and grounding all flights. Do you have employees there? Are they safe? Can they get home?
Without the right technology in place, you're playing a guessing game, desperately making calls as you attempt to answer these questions. Then your phone rings, and this time it's the spouse of one of your employees asking about the whereabouts of their loved one - and you're forced to tell them you don't have any information.
To avoid this painful scenario, your organization needs tools in place to locate employees. In some cases, employers mandate their travelling employees use an app that captures all itinerary information, provides location-specific safety guidance and allows instant communication between travellers and the home office. If emergency extraction is required, an app can also be utilized to connect stakeholders to critical response providers.
Each organization has unique risk concerns and therefore requires tailored technology solutions. A travel management company can provide guidance in this regard by identifying solutions that support duty of care responsibilities. Additionally, you can leverage the resources of a TMC to augment your organization's ability to fulfill its duty to travellers while maintaining a cost-effective structure.
Canadian employers are required by law to ensure the safety of their employees, including travellers. A policy born from thorough risk assessment and supported by tailored technology can optimize your organization's ability to comply with these standards.