How to Manage Health Risks to Your Travellers
There are numerous health risks every business traveller faces. Tight schedules and high pressure situations mean business travellers are particularly prone to fatigue and stress-related illnesses. There’s also the new wave of health-related emergencies, with the Ebola and Zika viruses being two of the most recent examples. So, how can you effectively manage the health risks to travellers?
There’s no such thing as ‘last minute preparation’
‘Last minute’ and ‘preparation’ don’t sit well in the same sentence. To mitigate travel risk, employees need to be educated and supported long before they take to the road. That requires a proactive communication plan – but you’ll need to cover some important ground, first.
Understanding the risks
Before a communication plan can be created, you need to understand what the risks are. There are three categories you should consider:
- Personal: pre-existing conditions, the health and fitness of employees and wellness behaviour.
- Accidents: accidents happen, but their likelihood can be controlled (if you end up in a car crash, you’ll increase your chances of being ok if sat in the back wearing a seatbelt).
- Destination: Are there any endemic diseases, outbreaks or environmental issues?
Once you know the risks, your communication plan can be developed. Depending on your findings, this may involve one-to-one training on how to carry out risk assessments, or education on hygiene and which check-ups to take before leaving. Some businesses can also implement personal information alerts and itinerary-based pre-travel emails.
Policies play a big part, too, and should be customised based on the destination. For example, while cycling is commonplace in Amsterdam, there are strict limits on women cycling when in Saudi Arabia.
Where does the responsibility lie?
Never assume that the traveller knows it all. The responsibility for managing business traveller health risks lies in two camps:
- The organisation (provider of policies, procedures, training and education)
- The line manager (the person duty-bound to take care of their team’s well being)
Just remember that all training and education should be underpinned by a well-communicated means for employees to get help – especially in case of an emergency.
Why you shouldn’t focus too heavily on high-profile risks
The media has a tendency to focus on high-profile health risk. However, modern travel management needs a broad framework in which to manage and mitigate risk. This limits reactiveness and ensures health risks, security concerns and traffic accidents don’t play second fiddle to terrorist incidents.
Road safety, for example, is actually the second biggest risk to travellers (closely behind petty crime), despite just 23% of people taking into account road conditions at their destination prior to the journey.
The risk of business travel hedonism
People are generally less concerned about what they get up to while travelling for work. In a survey, 27% of business travellers admitted to binge drinking during trips. The less obvious perils of business travel relate to high alcohol consumption and more serious hedonistic activities.
Business travel hedonism can be tackled with policies and procedures, but it pays to start by addressing the root cause; why are your employees engaging in such activity?
Don’t use your insurance policy as a crutch
Insurance policies play a vital role in business travel, but rely on them too heavily, and the organisation will favour a reactive approach to risk. Most businesses work hard to limit their exposure to insurance claims. The policy’s role is to cover the financial risk, but reducing the number of claims is likely to be a key strategy for the organisation.
It’s therefore important to inform travellers what is (and isn’t) covered, but to also educate them on how to avoid the need to claim.
How effectively are you communicating your policy on health risks to your traveller? Take a look at the visual travel policy builder – it includes a ‘Good to Know’ section that you can use to communicate your health-related guidance.