Preparing to send employees to far off and unfamiliar lands for a meeting or event?
All companies and associations have a Duty of Care—a moral and legal obligation to protect their employees and meeting attendees from risks and threats. When employees travel internationally, fulfilling this often-unknown obligation can be quite complex.
Meeting planners, as well as those who make decisions to send employees to events, play a critical role in safeguarding travelers and should follow best practices when planning and executing a gathering in an unfamiliar environment. Here are 10 best practices for keeping attendees healthy, safe, and secure.
- Increase awareness: If you are a planning a corporate meeting, communicate with internal stakeholders and employees to ensure all parties understand the company’s Duty of Care obligations and each employee’s responsibility to act in a safe and prudent manner (Duty of Loyalty).
- Plan with key stakeholders: Reach out to security, human resources, and legal teams within your organization to map out each group’s role in the Duty of Care process. Using a scenario that represents a known risk associated with the meeting location or activity, conduct a planning session in which protocol, responsibilities, and desired actions are discussed.
- Expand policies and procedures: Examine existing guidelines and consider adding additional policies or procedures that specifically address risks associated with the meeting or event.
- Track traveling employees at all times: Many companies today use travel agency data or input travel itinerary information into an online tracking solution so they can monitor and evaluate employee travel plans. More robust systems allow you to instantly communicate with employees via e-mail or text message in case of an emergency or travel disruption and send pre-arrival information. Savvy companies embed this solution within their medical and security assistance provider so the company can prepare and react with 24/7 support.
- Communicate, educate, and train: Clearly express expectations, guidelines, and resources to all participating employees and attendees. Let them know what assistance is available to them in case of an emergency. This can be done during pre-event communications brochures, e-mail, or Web-based training.
- Assess risk prior to every meeting: Engage your company’s security team or security assistance partner to conduct a thorough review of potential threats in and around the meeting or event location. Consider identifying employees with health risks prior to travel and have a protocol for both employee and employer for accommodations.
- Implement an employee emergency-response system: Understand your company’s process for contacting employees and their families following an emergency. Make sure travelers are aware of their responsibilities for contacting the company with an “I’m OK” message following an emergency event. Similarly, be sure to have an emergency medical response plan in place to manage a trauma or illness at the event location.
- Implement additional management controls: Work hand in hand with human resources, finance, and legal departments to exercise controls that reinforce Duty of Care. For instance, you might require employees to complete a security briefing before their flight can be booked.
- Practice, practice, practice: A crisis management plan works only if everyone involved knows their roles. Do a hands-on drill at least once a year and be sure to debrief after the run to look for areas that can be improved.
- Conduct due diligence: Make sure that Duty of Care practices are standard operating procedure for all vendors, subcontractors, and partners.
For more information on best practices when it comes to Duty of Care, check out the International SOS blog, Dialogues on Duty of Care. For a copy of Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study, which looks at how organizations stack up when it comes to Duty of Care, visit the International SOS web site.