Photo by Ronny Sæther

Travel Security: How to mitigate risks for employees travelling abroad – thoughts and reflections by Ronny Sæther

20-07-2016 \\ Travel Security \\ Ronny Sæther

 

In today's unsecure world it seems to become more and more difficult to be prepared for what could happen when travelling abroad. A serious incident or emergency can occur anywhere anytime. Business trips, family holidays, even when you're travelling home from work. That is, when you least expect it.

 

The recent terror attacks in France and Belgium show us that everyone faces the risk that a serious emergency can occur when travelling, whether on leisure or business. A frequent traveller or a company with many business travellers is therefore likely to be affected by an emergency or incident sooner or later. So what can we do to mitigate the risks our employees face during business trips abroad – whether it is terror attacks, accidents of different kinds, kidnapping or natural disasters?

 

In the following I will take a closer look into this subject.

 

 

« At any rate, in my opinion the key to succeed with risk mitigation for employees travelling abroad is to be proactive, to train for what to do if an emergency or incident occurs, to have good plans, and to initiate measures to mitigate the risks the traveller may face»

 

 

Mitigate Travel Risks with Proactive Work

 

As I mentioned, we have seen several terrible terror attacks recently, and pinpointing the places not to go because an emergency or incident may occur. But it isn't that easy. No-one can tell the future.

 

I think we all agree that it is almost impossible to predict an emergency or incident, but on the other hand it should be possible to mitigate different types of risks wherever employees travel. How to do that? Be proactive and prepare employees for the trip. To be proactive and well prepared is in my opinion crucial in this context.

 

 

«It should be possible to mitigate different types of risks wherever employees travel. How to do that? Be proactive and prepare employees for the trip»

 

 

Many measures can be taken to mitigate risks in the proactive phase, such as (1) implementing risk assessments (Risks = Probability x Consequences), (2) preparing travel security policies to follow, (3) developing effective emergency and contingency plans, (4) making checklists (procedures) for what to do when an emergency or incident occurs, both for employers and employees, and (5) conducting travel security awareness training such as different types of courses that prepare participants for potential emergency situations abroad.

 

All points are part of the (1) organization’s efforts to be prepared if something occurs and similarly (2) prepare the employees for travelling abroad and coping with emergencies and will thus also be a part of (3) the organization’s duty of care program for its employees. Duty of care is important not to forget, although the employees also have a responsibility for their own welfare, in my opinion.

 

The opposite- not preparing employees for a travel will be incautious, meaning we are not mitigating the risks they may face when travelling abroad, and will in a sense also be in conflict with the organization's responsibility when it comes to the earlier mentioned duty of care.

 

 

«Risks = Probability x Consequences»

 

 

My assessment is that it is the proactive work with risk reducing measures along with good plans and awareness training that will mitigate the travel risks for employees travelling abroad.

 

 

«My assessment is that it is the proactive work with risk reducing measures along with good plans and awareness training that will mitigate the travel risks for employees travelling abroad»

 

 

An example of a measure that can be a part of mitigating risks is to obtain information about countries, regions or areas within a city which pose the highest risk to travelling, and not approve travels to those countries, regions or areas if it's not absolutely necessary. If it is, the employees can be equipped with GPS-trackers e.g.

 

Of course an incident can occur in places with lower risks as well, and in both cases it's important that the employees are trained in what to do if a serious incident occurs – for example through the aforementioned training.

 

In other words it is important that the employees are prepared for the trip and have taken the necessary precautions, as a result of proactive work and training done in cooperation with the employer prior to travelling abroad.

 

 

«In other words it is important that the employees are prepared for the trip and have taken the necessary precautions, as a result of the proactive work and training done in cooperation with the employer prior to travelling abroad»

 

 

Just like training the employees in what to do if an emergency or incident occurs, it is equally important that those who handle the emergency or incident at home (Travel Risk Management etc.) also are trained in what to do- to ensure that what needs to be done, will be done. Hence it is absolutely essential to have a total count of the organization’s travellers at any time, and this registration should be done in advance. In this way it will be easier to identify the necessary needs of actions and to contact travellers if an emergency or incident occurs when travelling, especially if employees are located in the area affected by an emergency or incident. As already mentioned it will be essential to have good emergency plans, checklists (procedures) and contingency plans prepared in advance as part of the proactive work.

 

 

«Just like training the employees in what to do if an emergency or incident occurs, it is equally important that those who handle the emergency or incident at home (Travel Risk Management etc.) also are trained in what to do»

 

 

To succeed: Support can be a determining factor

 

There’s no doubt that Travel Risk Management in different organizations depend on both good tools to use in critical situations and different types of analysis to ensure that the correct decisions are made. Support from a provider can thus be a determining factor to succeed.

 

There are several providers in the market offering good total package solutions that can be helpful and essential both when it comes to good proactive decisions taken in advance of employees travelling abroad and good decisions to be taken after an emergency or incident has occurred, such as;

 

(1) Access to analytical data, analysis, advisories from professionals of different types.

 

(2) Preparation of emergency and contingency plans as well as policies and checklists (procedures).

 

(3) Awareness training.

 

(4) Total overview of all employees travelling at any time, and access to tools that will make work after an emergency or incident easier.

 

(5) Access to analytical data, analysis, advisories from professionals of different types when an emergency or incident has occurred.

 

(6) Re-active work after an emergency or incident has occurred.

 

 

«Support from a provider can thus be a determining factor to succeed»

 

 

Short Summary

 

To conclude we can never be a hundred percent safe or secure, but if we take the necessary precautions and prepare for what may happen we are heading in the right direction. At any rate, in my opinion the key to succeed with risk mitigation for employees travelling abroad is to be proactive, to train for what to do if an emergency or incident occurs, to have good plans, and to initiate measures to mitigate the risks the traveller may face. If we do the right things, we can influence the way our employees cope with emergencies.

 

 

«At any rate, in my opinion the key to succeed with risk mitigation for employees travelling abroad is to be proactive, to train for what to do if an emergency or incident occurs, to have good plans, and to initiate measures to mitigate the risks the traveller may face. If we do the right things, we can influence the way our employees cope with emergencies»

 

 

Proactive work as shown above will not only be useful to organizations that want to mitigate risks before sending employees on business trips abroad, it can also be used before going on your annual family holiday or on many other occasions to mitigate different types of risks.

 

Don’t hesitate to comment or contact me if you have thoughts about the subject.

 

Best Wishes and safe travels to all,

 

Ronny Sæther