risk management

Protecting the mobile workforce – International SOS

As corporate travel continues to increase, there seems to be a discrepancy between the perceived travel risk outlook for travellers and the actual risks expected to increase this year.

Results of a survey conducted by International SOS and IPSOS show that 61% of respondents feel that the travel risk have increased for Sub-Saharan Africa over the past year and 72% indicated that travel risks have increased globally. Also, 57% feel that travel risks will continue to increase over the remainder of the year.

The results of the survey was presented as a recent workshop hosted by International SOS and according to the results respondents perceive the top five travel risks to relate to terrorism, civil unrest, extreme weather events, petty crime and natural disasters.

On the contrary however, International SOS says the reality is actually quite the opposite with the top five travel risk factors for 2017 including stomach and gastrointestinal problems, road accidents, inadequate healthcare, flu and non-infectious diseases.

When it comes to the biggest challenges in protecting travellers,  49% of respondents indicated that educating travellers on travel risks was their biggest challenge,  47% said that communication with their travellers during crises was a top challenge and 42% said tracking employee travel  was a major obstacle.

In light of these challenges companies have indicated that they have either reinforced travel security measures for their travellers, updated their travel risk policy, introduced pre-trip advisory emails, implemented travel safety training or implemented programmes to locate travellers.

According to International SOS, in an effort to protect travellers businesses should consider access to advice that is impartial and that can offer a professional assessment on travel risk to specific locations, risk assessments that a profile and itinerary specific, training of travelling staff, identification of key indicators of deterioration and the ability to rapidly and effectively communicate with travellers.

Another key point touched on by International SOS is the rise of mental health in the workplace. International SOS points out that it is increasingly important for organisations to consider the well-being of their mobile workforce.   

In response to this growing need, International SOS, has partnered with Workplace Options (WPO), to provide a seamless service of rapid response psychological support where it is needed, alongside its health and security advice and on the ground support prior to and during a business trip or expatriation.  The global short term counselling service is also extended to managers, local employees and families and can be provided in over 60 languages.

The counselling method is tailored to a mobile workforce: phone, videocall or face to face with support in over 60 languages. The assessment covers the presenting issue, supporting problems, support systems, coping strategies, background information, and a risk assessment and the outcome is a plan that covers the short-term focus including goals agreed upon with the participant.