Reassuring expat staff in uncertain times
This summer counter-terrorism police took the step of issuing a four-minute advice video for travellers which explained what to do in the event of a terror attack. Seeing the news reports of terrorist incidents and natural disasters is, understandably, likely to make us all feel a little more concerned about our personal safety especially when we go overseas. The advice video was aimed at holidaymakers but what should employers be doing to reassure their staff who are travelling and working overseas?
Why should employers be considering this now?
Travelling and living abroad for business is increasingly common and employees are travelling to less stable regions. Half of the managers responding to a recent Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) survey* said that staff had experienced at least one issue in the last 12 months. Natural disasters and extreme weather were amongst the most common issues experienced. 59%* of managers said they were concerned about security and terrorism when their staff travel abroad.
Terrorist attacks and natural disasters can happen anywhere. A country may be experiencing political unrest or a higher risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Irrespective of the cause, situations can arise and escalate quickly with little or no warning. It isn’t surprising that this can make employees feel anxious about overseas travel. Employers have a responsibility, wherever they are sending staff, both to reassure and meet their legal duty of care. It makes good business sense too, employees who feel confident about travelling are likely to be more productive.
What can employers do to reassure staff?
Employers should review the steps they can take to make expat staff and those travelling overseas feel better prepared, protected and reassured. This may include staying up to date with The Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice, establishing evacuation policies and ensuring the relevant insurance cover is in place.
It should be a priority for companies to have policies and processes in place to offer protection and manage any incident that may arise for overseas workers.
As companies grow and extend their operations around the globe they need to consider the what is being put in place for staff who will be living and working abroad for extended periods and those travelling overseas for shorter trips. Making sure adequate protection is in place not only enables a company to fulfil its legal duty of care obligations, it is reassuring for staff to know they are protected.
Sarah Dennis is Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection, which she joined in 2014 following over 17 years working as a consultant and in senior management roles in international health insurance companies including Jelf Group, Norwich Union Healthcare (Aviva UK), HealthCare International, Goodhealth Worldwide Ltd. (Aetna...