International SOS’s Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study Continues to Inform Travel Directors of Best Practices
White paper featuring original research serves as road map to better travel risk management for global organizations at the 2012 GBTA Convention
- 95% of companies sent employees on business trips to high risk locations in 2011
- High growth, high potential BRIC countries were perceived to be amongst the highest risk locations
- Concern for employee health, safety and security is a priority, although companies increasingly understand the positive financial impact of "Duty of Care" and preparedness
Of the 628 global companies that were surveyed by International SOS for the study, almost all (95%) sent employees on business trips to high risk locations in 2010 and/or 2011. Lawlessness, terrorism, political upheaval, civil unrest and pandemics were identified as among the top 20 risks faced by employees abroad. The high proportion of employees in high-risk locations underlines the pressing need of companies to seriously consider the security and medical provisions offered.
The study found that the top 20 primary perceived high-risk employee locations include key high-growth and emerging markets. Mexico was rated as the highest risk location, with all the BRIC countries within the top 20: India (5), China (8), Russia (14) and Brazil (16). Four of the identified top ten risks were related to health issues, including illness, lack of access to western standards of medical care, infectious diseases and travel-related infections. Despite the legal implications and medical costs involved in taking care of incidents, companies still perceived Duty of Care as primarily an ethical concern.
"Since the study was released, we have continued to use it as a powerful tool to raise awareness of the importance of travel risk management, and have assisted organizations, including many in the Global 500, in implementing effective duty of care strategies," explained John Rendeiro, VP of Global Security & Intelligence for International SOS and member of GBTA's Risk Committee. "The global benchmarking study highlights the need for companies to focus on the best ways to preemptively protect their employees and – through them – their businesses."
Ownership of Duty of Care Responsibility – The study sheds light on who the primary Duty of Care decision maker is as well as who coordinates and "owns" the responsibility. Travel directors ranked in the top five for all three categories but never ranked first. Also they ranked third among other Duty of Care stakeholders when measured on their awareness of their travel risk management responsibilities - security/risk management and occupational health and safety professionals ranked higher with insurance managers and HR professionals falling below travel directors.
"It's not surprising that travel directors truly understand the risks that travelers face as they are often on the front lines getting phone calls from travelers who have lost their passport or ended up in an auto accident," says Rendeiro. "What's surprising is that travel directors are not the top decision makers, instead, this role is going to HR or senior executives who are not as aware of the everyday risks employees face when they cross new frontiers."
Most Dangerous Locations — Respondents were asked to a) identify the nations in which they have employees working, or where employees are regularly sent on assignment and b) to rank those nations in order according to the level of danger that organization believes is posed to employees, in terms of health, safety and security. The study found that the top 20 perceived high-risk employee locations include key high-growth and emerging markets.
The top 10 nations perceived as most dangerous, by organizations that have employees operating in them, were as follows: 1) Mexico, 2) Nigeria, 3) Afghanistan, 4) India, 5) Pakistan, 6) Iraq, 7) Papua New Guinea, 8) China, 9) Democratic Republic of Congo and 10) Indonesia.
Additionally, 95 percent of responding organizations stated they dispatch international business travelers to regions they believe to be high risk; 74 percent said they have employees who are based in high-risk locations and 70 percent are on international assignment.
Most Commonly Occurring Incidents — Respondents were asked to identify the difficulties experienced by traveling and remotely located employees. The five most commonly occurring serious health- and safety-related concerns were lack of access to medical care, opportunistic crime, workplace accidents, road accidents and civil unrest.
Seventy-five percent of responding organizations stated they had employees who experienced a health or medical emergency while travelling; 55 percent said affected employees had "lack of access to appropriate health care" at the time of need.
Sector-Specific Concerns — The study also assessed participant responses by the sector they represent. While there were many commonalities across sectors there were also some interesting discrepancies in the types of issues that are most vexing for certain industries. Among the highlights: the agriculture and agribusiness sector has pronounced concerns around civil and political unrest. The construction and real estate sector are most focused on risks associated with lawlessness, violent crime, and organized crime. The energy and natural resource sector has elevated concerns about remoteness of work locations, language and cultural estrangement, and road accidents.
The 47-page study, a summary of which can be viewed www.internationalsos.com/dutyofcare, was authored by Lisbeth Claus, Ph.D, a professor of global human resources at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management of Willamette University. Dr. Claus, a Belgian national, is a former president of SHRM Global, then known as the Society for Human Resource Management.
About International SOS
International SOS (www.internationalsos.com) is the world's leading medical & security services company operating from over 700 sites in 76 countries with 10,000 employees, led by 1,100 physicians and 200 security specialists. Our global services include medical and risk planning, preventative programs, in-country expertise and emergency response for travelers, expatriates and their dependents of over 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies.