HR professionals recognise growing risks of business travel – but some falling short on Duty of Care

09 February 2016
New research(1) commissioned by Collinson has found the majority of HR professionals (58%) believe the process of sending employees abroad has got more complicated and difficult from a Duty of Care perspective over the past 12 months.

At a time of heightened global travel risks, the study also found more than half (54%) believe the process of sending employees abroad will get even more complicated and difficult over the next 12 months.  Just 7% said that the process will not get more complicated.

Despite the increasing complexity and risks when sending employees abroad, the research found significant differences in how firms manage the process of business travel: just 59% said their businesses had a corporate travel policy which includes a risk management strategy; more than one in 10 (13%) admitted they either didn't have a corporate travel risk policy or simply didn't know.

A fifth (19%) of respondents said they had no corporate travel risk partner or Travel Management Company (TMC) in place.  Nearly two-fifths (37%) said their firms had a corporate travel risk partner in place in addition to a TMC while 24% said they had more than one travel risk provider. 15% said they used a TMC only.

The research also found that over half (55%) of HR professionals think their TMC provides a medical and security assistance service for employees abroad if an incident occurs and over 40% think these firms handle crisis management and response.  Some may believe they are meeting Duty of Care obligations because they assume their TMC suppliers will fulfil the duties of a travel risk partner, when in fact they may not have the expertise or specialism in these areas.

In addition, only half (52%) of HR professionals said they were wholly responsible for their company's business travel policy with 12% saying there was a blend of responsibilities with no overall ownership.  Unsurprisingly, in terms of the most challenging aspects of sending people abroad, a quarter (25%) cited the internal coordination of responsibility.  Classifying risks presented by different locations was cited by 23%, with staying abreast of risk drivers referred to by 17%.

Collinson's study also found significant variety in the risk assessment processes employed by organisations before an employee travels abroad for work: just 44% said they ensure staff working overseas are issued with company guidelines for travelling on business and only 38% said they conduct risk assessments if the employee is going to an area deemed as high risk.

Of those firms that conduct risk assessments themselves, the most popular tool used is the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website (63%).* Google/online search was second, cited by 58%, whereas reports or updates from a security consultancy or partner were used by just a third (33%).

Randall Gordon-Duff, Head of Product, Corporate Travel, Collinson said: "It is more critical than ever that firms employ appropriate tools and solutions, both pre- and in-travel, to effectively prepare and protect their employees when working overseas. With almost two thirds of respondents saying they rely on Google or online searches for risk assessments - nearly double the number that cited reports from a risk consultancy - firms may be compromising already limited resources by overrating some risks while overlooking others that might be more relevant to the needs of the individual traveller.

"We believe that businesses should take the opportunity to consolidate and simplify their approach to Duty of Care ensuring there is clear stakeholder responsibility within the organisation."

Collinson recently launched 360 Assistance, a unique assistance solution to help corporate clients proactively manage their Duty of Care towards employees who undertake international business travel.  360 Assistance is a fully integrated medical and security advice and emergency response service aimed at corporates employing frequent business travellers, short-term assignees or expatriate workers.  It has been designed to help users in any situation, in any time zone around the world through Collinson's extensive global network.

Download the full report.

1. Research conducted by Atomik Research among 103 HR professionals in December 2015
*Respondents were able to select more than one risk assessment tool as applicable to their business  

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