The concept of duty of care is relatively simple: Any company is responsible for taking care of its employees when they are away from the office on business. But finding practical duty of care tips that can help guide a travel manager’s work can be more difficult.
Thankfully, travel managers enjoy access to a number of vendors, service providers and other companies that specialize in business travel — like SAP Concur. And SAP Concur has just published a Duty of Care Tipsheet that includes actionable ideas for making sure employees are safe and cared for while traveling for work.
Here’s a look at SAP Concur’s 10 duty of care tips, plus other relevant information as you support your company’s traveling team members.
1. Get Involved in Crisis Management
Larger companies may have an existing crisis management team. And, if your company has one, you should be on it. Crisis management teams are charged with creating plans and protocols should an emergency or disaster affect the company. Your traveling team members are more vulnerable to emergency or disaster when away from the office, so it’s only logical that their travel manager should be a part of the crisis management team.
If your company does not currently have a crisis management team, consider creating one. Crisis management doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply considering possible emergency or disaster scenarios and how they might affect traveling employees can serve as a foundation for creating an action plan.
2. Ensure Around-the-Clock Support
Crises don’t emerge according to a schedule. They can happen over a weekend or in the middle of the night — and you need to be able to check on your travelers and get them relevant and necessary information.
You may already have around-the-clock support services through a corporate travel agency or a similar business travel service. But, if not, it’s time to develop a system for getting in touch with traveling employees at any time — no matter where they may be in the world.
3. Compile a List of Key Contacts
Compile a list of key contacts during an emergency, as well as a list of who is responsible for what tasks in an emergency situation. Also, think through a succession plan for everyone who holds a specific responsibility.
For example, who will step into a role if the person who holds it is on vacation or recuperating from surgery? Again, emergencies don’t emerge according to a schedule — so it’s important to plan comprehensively and anticipate the unexpected.
4. Prep Team Members Before They Travel
Your company should already have an effective travel policy in place. This policy should include specific information focused on security and safety. Make sure your travelers are familiar with the security and safety portions of the policy. Place special emphasis on it during initial training, and consider sending regular reminders via email or other channels.
5. Make Contact Info Easy to Access
You should have a list of key contacts at the office — as noted in No. 3. And your travelers should also have a list of key contacts while they are on the road. Make sure that your travelers can find and use key contacts no matter what kind of access they have to technology or the Internet.
For example, storing a list of contacts on a server that can only be accesses via a VPN connection is fine. But you should also store contacts on your travel management platform so that team members can access it via mobile app. And you should also consider giving wallet cards to travelers — which can be used when there’s no technology or Internet connection to be found.
Your travel management company may provide 24-hour support, which gives your travelers just one number to call. But make sure your travel management company knows who to contact at your office (and how to reach them after hours) so that they can alert you to an emergency situation.
6. Understand International Destinations
Some companies send their travelers to countries where stability and safety aren’t always assured. You should have a rating system that accounts for a country’s risk at any given time, and you should have a threshold beyond which you won’t allow travelers to go to a certain country.
For example, you may use a green-yellow-red system for evaluating risk, categorizing countries as low-, medium- or high-risk. You and the company’s executives may then determine that any country categorized as high-risk should be off limits to travelers.
Again, this is something your travel management company may already have in place. If so, make sure you’re taking advantage of these insights in pursuit of proper duty of care.
7. Keep Tabs on Your Travelers
Many travel management companies and third-party duty of care service providers offer employee tracking systems. These systems are designed with two-way communications ability so that you can immediately contact a traveling team member in case of emergency.
8. Plan Ahead for Medical Emergencies
Business travel sometimes takes employees to third-world countries where it’s hard to find health care, much less quality health care. Consider using a global medical support service provider if your team members often travel to less developed countries. These service providers can deliver medical support around the world when one of your employees needs it, and they can even provide evacuation services in the most dire of circumstances.
9. Train Your Travelers
The best duty of care plan in the world won’t be effective if your travelers don’t understand how to access the support system you’ve created. That’s why training is so important.
Make sure to spend a disproportionate amount of training time talking about safety and security. Make clear to your travelers the company’s expectations, and provide relevant tips, tricks and insights for staying safe while away from the office. And, also, make training more than just a one-time thing. Consider annual or bi-annual trainings for team members who often travel for work.
10. Sharpen Your Messaging
During a crisis, you only have time to share the most helpful and relevant information. So be sure you know how to sharpen a message before a crisis begins.
As a rule of thumb, focus on informing above all else. Poor messaging can sometimes lead to panic, so be sure you’re sharing only necessary information in a tone that conveys seriousness without causing alarm. Plan ahead by creating template messages for several different crisis scenarios that might come up.
Here’s the link to download the complete SAP Concur Duty of Care Tipsheet
Where Do You Get Travel Management Support?
Duty of care is a huge responsibility for a company to handle in-house. There’s a world of technology, applications and services that can help a company execute on its duty of care responsibility — and JTB Business Travel can help you identify and implement those tools.
We work with companies large and small, helping them to develop effective travel policies, select the right technologies and coordinate travel in a way that maximizes a company’s return on investment while keeping travelers safe and comfortable. Behind every service we provide and every recommendation we make is a common sense approach to business travel — including a common sense approach to duty of care.
Contact us today about duty of care and ensuring your travelers remain safe and secure while away from the office