Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018!
SHRM board member David Windley discusses how unconscious bias can derail workplace diversity efforts.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
As multinational organizations continue to expand into developing markets, they are recognizing the need for advanced systems to monitor and protect globally mobile employees. With new risks emerging every day, when was the last time you evaluated your company’s travel-risk and crisis-management programs?
Imagine it’s 3 a.m. and your phone rings. Your company’s chief operating officer wants to know how many employees are presently in Cairo, the site of one of your key trading partners. You flip on the news to see images of burning cars and the newscaster describing a civil uprising that has turned violent.
For human resource directors, this scenario and others like it have played out many times over the past decade. Whether it is civil unrest in North Africa, tsunamis in Asia, terror attacks in Europe or other globally significant events, international risks today are more prevalent than ever before. Despite these threats, U.S. businesses continue to expand into overseas markets. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, 22.9 million Americans work for a U.S.-owned multinational corporation (MNC). These workers may potentially travel or be permanently assigned to an international location for business purposes. To manage duty-of-care obligations, effective human capital management requires the analysis, management and mitigation of the risks involved with this exposure.
Understanding International Risks
Devastating events affecting international travelers and those working in different countries are daily occurrences, with new threats rapidly outpacing traditional safety and security measures:
With all of these potential risks, how can human resource teams help prepare employees for international emergencies?
Integrated Travel Risk and Crisis Management
To meet duty-of-care obligations, forward-thinking organizations are proactive about preparing for these evolving international threats. They recognize the potential impact to travelers, expatriates, third-country nationals, local nationals, subcontractors, vendors and clients. To address this, MNCs must take an integrated enterprisewide approach to travel risk and crisis management.
Too often, corporations unknowingly take unnecessary risks by purchasing a patchwork of travel-assistance solutions. Typically, these products are selected not for their crisis response capabilities but because they are attached to insurance programs that protect against economic hazards. Although these assistance programs can be beneficial for the traveler who needs a prescription refilled or help locating replacement eyeglasses, they prove ineffective during major events such as the Arab Spring. This exposes the employee to possibly preventable harm, the corporation to unanticipated liability and the business’s operations to potential interruption. Unfortunately, a check-the-box travel-assistance solution that is not integrated with a corporation’s emergency-action plans doesn’t solve this problem.
One solution is to create an integrated travel risk and crisis management program that requires an alignment of internal stakeholders and external resources. Internally, organizations must create a cross-functional, cross-departmental task force for the program that is charged with actively assessing the company’s evolving international risk and regularly reviewing employees’ and administrators’ roles and responsibilities during an emergency. The task force should have representatives from all departments responsible for protecting personnel, including human resources, risk management, security, legal, occupational health and travel.
One of the task force’s first responsibilities should be to examine the company’s existing travel risk and crisis management framework for areas of potential alignment. Multinational corporations often have overlapping service packages from various vendors sponsored by different departments, such as employee benefits and business insurance. Prudent organizations can use these programs to save money and streamline vendor management.
Enterprisewide travel risk and crisis management programs provide the highest likelihood of positive outcomes in emergencies. Corporations that implement comprehensive programs will see decreased financial exposure, reduced organizational liability and higher levels of employee safety. Furthermore, there is evidence of a measurable financial return on investment: A recent report published by the Business Council for the United Nations noted that for every dollar spent on risk mitigation and crisis response, the average return on investment during an emergency is between $4 and $11. Because emergencies are continuing to occur frequently, this return is often quickly realized.
By creating a complete travel risk and crisis management program, requiring both internal and external integration, multinational corporations help meet their duty-of-care requirements, reduce their financial and legal liability, and demonstrate their commitment to employees by providing them with the highest levels of protection possible. They also dramatically improve their business operations’ resiliency during major crises.
Melissa Roth is vice president and general counsel and Stephanie Diamond is senior manager, Human Capital Management, at
Global Rescue LLC, a provider of worldwide emergency services and crisis response.
SHRM Online Global HR page
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Join SHRM's exclusive peer-to-peer social network
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies