The day before and after tomorrow

by Miklos Bolza01 Jun 2016
In today’s tumultuous world, disaster can strike at any time. For firms sending their employees on an overseas assignment, extra steps must be taken both before they fly out and after they return.
Bertrand Saillet, general manager of corporate travel management firm FCM Travel Solutions Singapore talked to HRD about HR’s pre and post-incident responsibilities.
Before departure
“A pre-departure briefing is essential in order to ensure that staff are well aware of the company’s travel policies,” he said.
This is especially important in cases where staff wish to make independent travel arrangements, for instance when extending their business trip, he added.
“Being well versed in their company’s policies, they can be more aware of the dos and don’ts to avoid any unnecessary exposure to risk.”
It is also vital for HR to impart information specific to the intended destination, Saillet advised, noting that the most important area here was discussing any medical risks.
“If a potential medical risk is identified, employees should be advised to be vaccinated and take any other individual health precautions necessary.”
Employees should also be made aware of any social or communal risks in the region they will be working within and whether there are any red-zones to avoid, he said.
Travel apps can be used to good effect by letting employees “check-in” once they’ve reached their destination and allowing the company to track where staff are at all times – a valuable tool within an emergency.
“Such apps are also able to remind frequent travellers of upcoming trips and share real-time information about the locations they are travelling to better prepare them.”
Lastly, Saillet recommended putting staff through intercultural training – an important but often neglected aspect of business travel, he said.
“Helping your staff understand how clients, suppliers or vendors do business and their common practices could go a long way in ensuring they are not misunderstood due to their lack of cultural awareness.”
After an emergency
If an employee has to be evacuated back home, there are a number of steps the employer should take to ensure the affected individual is ok.
“Once the employee is safely evacuated, the employer should start assessing any damages, such as loss of personal belongings or ongoing but non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses that require medical attention.”
The necessary insurance claims can then be carried out to mitigate any further loss.
“Most importantly, the employer needs to make the employee feel that they are well taken care of,” he said.
Once the above steps have been completed, the situation should be assessed by both parties, Saillet suggested.
“The employer should sit down with the traveller to evaluate the entire incident and discuss if it could have been avoided. They should focus on how to address the current gaps in their travel program to reduce the occurrence of future incidents to a minimum if possible.”
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