When a company undertakes on business travel, the proper preparation of its employees becomes a crucial element. This involves not just logistics, but also other important aspects, such as security. As part of risk management, this is often a blind spot for companies. And yet, it is essential. By implementing a rigorous process, organizations can not only optimize the performance of their employees traveling here and abroad, but also demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of their resources and a structured, professional approach to the matter.
In this article, we will outline some of the aspects to consider when organizing a business trip, whether at home or abroad. Our aim is to raise your awareness, so we’ll limit ourselves to a few examples.
Introducing a policy on business travel and business trips
In Quebec, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its employees while they are at work. When employees travel as part of their duties, or to take part in related activities that involve travel (training, seminars, conferences, business development, client meetings, etc.), the employment relationship remains valid, and they are considered to be “at work”, since they are not absent or on vacation, and remain paid during this period. As a result, a travel policy must be put in place and adopted by management. This policy should address various elements, such as :
- The policy owner;
- The assignment of responsibilities between internal stakeholders;
- What is and isn’t allowed when traveling;
- Safety rules ;
- Reimbursable expenses ;
- Travel risk assessment and required mitigation measures;
- Guidelines to follow if a problem arises while the employee is in transit;
- Guidelines applicable to all travelers;
- Guidelines applicable to expatriate employees;
- Authorizations to be obtained ;
- The procedure for providing feedback following a trip where negative experiences have occurred;
- Management and control of planning (booking transportation, accommodation, follow-up during the trip, etc.);
Preparing traveling employees
All travel requires a certain degree of organization, and employee travel is no exception. Staff who have to travel must be adequately prepared before departure. The company needs to consider the risks associated with the trip, as well as the possible delays that any unforeseen constraints may cause.
Here are a few examples of aspects to consider when preparing:
- Departure briefing with employee, depending on type of trip and destination;
- List of minimum personal effects required, depending on the type of trip and destination;
- Necessary vaccinations ;
- Travel insurance for the employee (illness, death, loss of luggage, theft, etc.);
- Specialized insurance for the employer (e.g. ransom demand, etc.);
- Protection of electronic devices and access to them (computer, cell phone, etc.);
- Registration of the employee abroad, in order to be notified of any emergency situation unfolding in the destination country;
- Accompanying the employee by a security service (if necessary);
- Care and support upon arrival abroad;
- Processes and means of communication during the stay;
- Emergency repatriation process, if applicable;
- Emergency telephone number for company manager and travel agency (24 h / 7 d);
Know the restrictions of the destination country
Learning about the risks and precautions to be taken when traveling abroad is crucial to the safety and success of your trip. Even if the destination country is considered safe, it is imperative to gather the necessary information on the level of risk. Cultural differences, safety standards, health conditions and trade regulations vary considerably from one country to another. To do this, the company can first carry out the necessary checks with the government, and then mandate an external firm to help with the process.
Overseeing employee travel
At all times, the company must be able to track the employee’s movements and be able to bring him or her back home in the event of a problem. To facilitate this follow-up, it’s best to ask the employee to provide regular updates while traveling, to ensure that communications always remain functional, and to have pre-defined contact persons in case of emergency.
Having a crisis management plan
Finally, a crisis management plan can benefit any organization. In the event of a serious emergency during a business trip, this plan is useful for ensuring the efficient repatriation of employees abroad, as well as for managing communications with all stakeholders, such as family, colleagues and the media.
Preparing employees for travelling is a strategic imperative for any company, whatever its size. It is also important to consider the risk tolerance threshold, as this is specific to each organization.
At Benoit Racette services-conseils inc. we can help you at any stage of the process. Contact us at [email protected] for more information.