Business travel continues to be an integral part of managing a successful business. Establishing a robust, results-oriented corporate travel management program involves many components. The establishment of a concise travel policy, appropriately managing travel expenses and ensuring that both travelling employees and your business are satisfied with travel management results will demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI) from your corporate travel program.
One important area of your corporate travel management program that isn’t discussed frequently, is your business’ commitment to duty of care while your employees are traveling. Duty of care by definition is your company’s moral and legal responsibility for the safety and well-being of its employees within your organization, with special attention given to travelling employees. It’s essential for a well-run business, and a successful travel management program.
The Importance of Duty of Care
The treatment of duty of care within your organization should be reflected in your corporate culture. Does your corporate culture adhere to strict safety and security policies, both in the corporate office and while traveling? Is your employee and traveler satisfaction taken into account when managing travel assignments? Does your travel manager or travel management company (TMC) provide 24/7/365 support for travelers, ensuring their questions will be answered while on the road? When your business has a positive and proactive approach to duty of care, it’s reflected in the corporate culture and in turn, felt by your employees.
Duty of care is also important to the bottom line. When improperly managed, both financial and legal issues can negatively affect your business. Simple travel delays to more serious challenges like sickness or a car accident can turn a trip to your top client into an expensive legal nightmare if duty of care policies and procedures are not established and enforced. Besides the possible public relations nightmare, when duty of care is not properly managed, travelling employees - especially your top performers – may simply leave your organization.
In this highly competitive, global market, retaining top talent is key to the success of your business. What are the challenges to managing duty of care in your organization? How can these challenges be proactively assessed and mitigated, resulting in a cost-effective and compliant organization with highly productive employees?
Managing Duty of Care
Ensuring your employees' safety while travelling is critical, and unfortunately in this day and age, safety issues move beyond a relatively simple airline delay due to weather. The threats of natural disasters, terrorism or kidnapping are real and happen throughout the world to unsuspecting corporate travelers.
Less newsworthy events like car accidents or medical issues can have a significant effect on travelling employees and their families; and provide serious legal and liability consequences for your business. In addition, the stress of travel cannot be underestimated. Lost baggage, flight delays, increased workload while travelling and time away from family and friends can negatively affect the productivity of employees and present challenges to retaining your road warriors.
It’s critical to evaluate and determine the potential risks incurred through travel within your business and then determine the best ways to mitigate these risks. Advito provides a sample overview of risks associated with travel that include not only risk to people, but risk to reputation, data, legal and of course risk to financial well-being of your company. All of these possibilities can also discourage potential employees from contributing to the success of your business. Hiring top performers is a competitive advantage for your business; critical management of duty of care contributes to the bottom line through decreased costs and increased productivity, while at the same time attracts that top talent.
Once the potential risks for your organization have been properly determined, develop a plan that will appropriately manage and communicate your business’ duty of care policy to current and potential employees, paying special attention to how this will reduce the potential risks involved with travel. The GBTA Corporate Social Responsibility Toolkit provides guidance on developing a travel risk management program. Once this plan is established, follow these recommendations to ensure company-wide understanding and compliance:
1. Include your duty of care plan in your travel policy.
A travel policy includes information regarding preferred suppliers, expense thresholds and must also highlight the duty of care plan for employees. Clearly showing procedures for tracking travelling employees, providing continual support while traveling and specific guidelines if risks arise will show your commitment to this critical travel piece to current and potential employees.
2. Communicate your travel policy and duty of care commitment to all potential employees.
Once the duty of care plan is included in your travel policy, be sure that potential top recruits are aware that it exists and is followed. Top performers will feel better about your organization and will tend to want to work for you, knowing you take your employee safety very seriously.
3. Thoroughly review duty of care during employee orientation.
It’s essential that all employees see and understand the duty of care highlights within your travel policy. 46% of business travelers perceive that their firm does not have a clear travel safety and security policy (Source: GBTA). A thorough review will help to eliminate confusion for road warriors while travelling and will provide support for all employees while on the road.
4. Assess your benefit package and determine duty of care needs.
According to Corporate Compliance Insights, many U.S. health insurance plans do not include coverage outside of the United States. In addition, more than 40% of the total expatriate assignments fail because of health issues experienced by family members while abroad? It’s imperative to include appropriate employee benefits that address duty of care for your traveling employees. This piece alone could be the game changer for attracting a top tier employee.
5. Leverage technology to mitigate risks.
The available technology for travelling employees not only simplifies their overall travel management; it can provide added support for potential travel disruptions, minimizing traveler stress and increasing overall satisfaction and productivity. Your TMC will provide the technological tools to accurately track all travelers while on the road, and mobile apps such as TripCase or TripIt allow your travel manager to import itinerary and other important trip details, providing support.
6. Enlist the help of a TMC to provide support and reduce costs.
An exceptional TMC will provide your business with the support, savings, productivity and control needed to manage a successful travel management program, with particular attention being paid to duty of care. As experts in the industry, their knowledge of risk assessment and potential and the policies and tools needed to manage this will provide a proactive plan that supports road warriors and attracts high performing potential employees. Your enlistment of a TMC will reduce the T&E line item of your budget by 10-20%.
Through the strategic assessment of potential travel risks, ensuring these risks are addressed in your corporate travel policy, clearly communicating your duty of care philosophy and proactive approach, and enlisting the expertise of a TMC, will allow your business to properly and ethically handle duty of care. Effective management will increase your competitive advantage when attracting top performing employees, reduce travel and entertainment expenses within your business, and increase control and compliance within your corporate travel program.
What are your thoughts or best practices on managing duty of care in your organization? We encourage you to share your comments below. If you’d like additional insight into developing an effective travel policy that covers all corporate travel including duty of care, download our Travel Policy Workbook.