Every business traveler has individual needs and requirements. So, why do we send them all off on their travels with the same risk management program? Research by Collinson Group suggests that just 47% of HR professionals issue employees with company guidelines for safety while traveling. That’s disconcerting enough, but the more pressing question is whether or not the programs they’re issued are conceived holistically.
A difficult question: who’s your benchmark?
Understanding which employees may encounter specific risks while travelling is a challenge, but rather than making advice equitable across the board, many companies simply ignore their needs altogether.
While undoubtedly an inadvertent policy, the benchmark many organizations rely on is geared towards a profile that is considered to have the least risk. For example, your travel policy isn’t necessarily based on the risks encountered by a group that might face discrimination while traveling.
What’s the benchmark for a traveling employee at your firm? Who are you assuming to be least and most at risk when traveling?
Taking it too far
Whilst you need to think about the risk for a broader group of travelers, it might be tempting to create separate risk management programs for individual employees or demographics. This would certainly be well-meaning, but in reality, is no different from defaulting to the wrong benchmark. A much better approach is to make the program applicable to every employee.
Let’s consider three separate, theoretical precautions for business travel:
- LGBTQ travelers may travel to regions where same-sex relationships can result in serious legal or social consequences.
- Pregnant women may have to take into account precautions that are otherwise taken for granted.
- Business travelers of a certain race may face discrimination in particular countries.
While undoubtedly separate, each group above can still benefit from the same travel risk management program. This can be achieved via a number of methods:
- Use different content formats to outline safety tips. For example, visual content such as a short, engaging animated video applicable to wider risk groups will likely garner far more engagement than a hastily written procedure document. What goes into the content might be general safety information for different at-risk groups and places and possibly even advice from employees traveling to these places.
- Make the policy publicly available to avoid the need for travelers to log in or have their access to such information tracked – thus reducing any stigma that might inadvertently be attached to the advice.
- Empower staff to personalize their risk management by creating a forum or group where traveling employees can talk openly about the risks they face. This could be set up through your internal communication system by setting up a group or you might choose to use an external platform that allows you to set up easily accessible groups or forums.
The best ideas often come from the travelers themselves, which is why taking a holistic approach to travel risk management requires the input of everyone – in turn creating a policy for everyone.
If the travel risk program in your organization can be personalized, you’ll create a fair policy for all and raise traveler engagement. Thankfully, this is a process that costs nothing but time.