COVID-19 did more than just cause a global pandemic. It called out your company's duty of care policy, too. Traveling employees were left with unanswered questions, not knowing how or when they'll get back to their families. At-home employees were left worrying about their job security, all due to the lack of structure that was in place. Of course, no one can truly prepare for the unknown, but after hearing stories from those who were stuck traveling with no direction from their company on what to do once coronavirus went global, showed us just how many companies were almost "too" unprepared.
Now, your company most likely has some sort of duty-of-care policy in place, however, let the response from COVID-19 prove that even companies with a good track record of providing security to it's employees have suffered, finding deep gaps within their duty of care solutions.
Every company needs to remember, your people are your organization's most valuable asset. When you take care of your employees, they take care of your business. That is why whether it's a pandemic or any other duty of care threat, all employees, not just travelers, need to be considered for safety and security. Use this self-isolation period to find your duty of care gaps, understand what actions need to be made, and be as proactive as possible before everything get's back to normal. Now let's break this down.
Duty of care is about building a culture of safety and trust, so employees can feel not only safe, but empowered to travel for work. After all, if your mobile workforce feels your organization does not properly support them on the road, they’ll certainly find an employer that does. Communicating that you genuinely care about your employees’ safety and security is a huge differentiator when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.
Businesses are more globally distributed today than ever before. There are more places and time zones where your employees could find themselves traveling for work. Traveling to almost any country comes with potential risks and it's essential to have proactive plans in place should something go wrong. Incorporating duty of care as part of crisis planning helps extend your performance of care beyond just employee monitoring.
Business travel sometimes means taking an Uber across town for a meeting, but other times it means taking planes, trains and automobiles halfway around the world. It’s important travelers feel we’ve got their backs every step of the way.
Why you should care:
- Employers are legally required to provide a standard of reasonable care for their employees
- Travelers who feel looked after are happier and more productive
- Nearly all travelers are faced with difficulties or disruptions at some point
- Your company’s reputation and bottom line are at stake
It's never a question of IF something's going to happen, but WHEN. Use this time to figure out your weak spots and you'll be better prepared to combat these curveballs in the future.
Here's a few to consider:
- Does "Coronavirus" ring a bell?
- Standing out from the local population, making them a potential target
- Driving in unfamiliar locations and conditions
- Stress and fatigue from travel delays / being away from home
- Not speaking the native language of the country they're traveling in
- Unfamiliarity with local health risks and medical facilities
- If specific areas of travel are more at risk for female travelers
- Areas of civil unrest that may quickly become a military zone
- Having no idea who to alert in case of an emergency
Auditing your policy not only ensures that you've thought of every possible scenario, but that your team, even in crisis, has a way to get in touch with you, your company, and their family. We've outlined a few common policy gaps to address and stress test them for efficiency:
- Failing to inform and educate your travelers on general and specific travel risks
- Not properly documenting when your company has advised employees on travel safety
- Security only focuses on high-risk international travel and not domestic travel or a mobile workforce
- Safety and security is not part of travel procurement criteria
- Your company doesn't stress test its crisis management plan regularly
- Your organization doesn't have a fully mapped out travel risk strategy
- Not having multiple back up ways to properly communicate while traveling in case normalized means of communication no longer work
- Creation of an emergency budget that corresponds to the size of your workforce
1. Create and/or Audit
It should go without saying....update your travel policy. If you don't have one, create one immediately. If you do, audit it. There's ALWAYS ways to improve. Before you can finalize an impressive duty of care policy, you need to know the process on how your team carries out travel in the first place. We've laid out everything you need to know. Find out how to create the most successful travel program and create structure.
Need to get buy-in from management first?
No worries. Learn how to create the perfect proposal and get executive buy-in.
2. Establish Response Roles
Are you handling this all on your own? Do you have a team? Or are you looking into leveraging a business travel booking platform to help take on some of that heavy lifting?
Whatever your "team" looks like, it's important to look at your response team hierarchy and who's responsible for what. Create this roadmap and then create multiple backup plans. The more transparent the better.
3. Prioritize Accessibility
Make pertinent information readily accessible and available for anyone and everyone in your organization. This means both mobile and web friendly. Meaning, if this information lives online where it's not optimized for mobile use, now's the time to change that.
You want your team to access this information quickly, no matter when or where they are.
4. Leverage Technology
With more technology at your fingertips than ever before, use it to your advantage. It's important, especially when it comes to duty of care, to properly monitor all traveling employees. Some platforms even have live traveler maps that shows who's traveling and where they are at any given time.
Knowing where your travelers are is just the tip of the iceberg. Having proper, real time channels of communication, and exit strategies are equally important. Learn the newest technology involving business travel to make sure you know how to adapt to this integral piece of your policy.
5. Be a Proactive Planner
Don’t be afraid to be the one pointing out flaws, calling out the "what ifs", and always thinking about what could go wrong from all perspectives. Running exercises and practice drills seems tedious until the actual scenario comes up. There's a reason why all emergency service personal run practice drills. Having practice scenarios where everyone learns from each drill only better prepares everyone for the real thing.
6. Be Human
At the end of the day when chaos has officially ensued, remember to lead with empathy. Your team, their family, and the rest of your staff will be emotional, stressed and anxious. It's important to remain calm and include personal outreach when something goes wrong - it puts employees at ease and ensures they feel well cared for.
We know that no one could have properly planned for everything that has come since The Coronavirus (Covid-19) took over the global travel industry. If somehow your duty of care policy took this type of scenario into account, our hat is off to you - PLEASE share with us what you did, how your company handled it, and what you learned since then. After all, we are all in this together, and we want to share any information we have to make sure traveling employees are just as safe as our work from home employees.
We realize some of you reading this may be on the other end of your companies duty of care policy, stuck sheltering in place. We're with you. For the coordinators of said companies, we're here to help.
Right now, we've mobilized our available inventory of over 450 furnished apartments throughout the northeast for wherever, whenever and however long you’ll need - with extreme flexibility. These apartments are completely furnished with full kitchens, high speed internet, and all the utilities you know and love. The perfect shelter in place oasis.
Our Compass Cares program constantly reminds us to remember the human side to business. So, I'll leave you with this: Whenever you, your family, or your team need a place to call home, remember that we’ll be there with open doors and open hearts.
Have a place to decompress and rest. Our crew's hope is that staying in a Compass Cares apartment will alleviate some of the stress you and your families face during this pandemic.
We know you are passionate about keeping patients and their families safe during this time, and Compass wants to do our part of making sure YOU and YOUR families are safe as well.
Providing displaced students a place of solace and comfort during times of uncertainty.
Watch this important video message from our crew and make the most of your time at home.
ABOUT THE TEAM
It's important to know the people behind the company. We want you to see the true, family-oriented culture of Compass. Outside our day-to-day, we're constantly coming together as beer connoisseurs, adrenaline junkies, and world travelers.