International SOS revealed the results of the 2017 Business Impact of Travel Risk survey.

Key findings from the survey of European executives, include that travel security risk mitigation programs are undermined by a lack of effective communication, with 70% of respondents planning to address this in 2017, and 60% have only a partial or no understanding at all of medical threats faced by their mobile workforce.

Other top insights revealed by the survey nclude:

  •          46% said health and travel security incidents had an impact on their business continuity
  •          27% are still moderately to not confident in their level of preparedness
  •          Only 50% of organizations have conducted a comprehensive review of the health of their mobile workforce
  •          Only 39% have a wellness program in place

Karel van de Pijpekamp, Managing Director Northern Europe at International SOS comments, “While organizations have medical and travel security risks high on the agenda, the survey demonstrates that a rigorous implementation and an on-going communication process is key to ensuring programmes are utilized effectively.  This highlights potential cost and business continuity risks if travel security issues aren’t managed successfully due to a lack of communication. It also highlights a possible gap in Duty of Care when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of mobile workforces.”

Information and communication during crisis

With the troubling events of 2016, organizations have increasingly become aware of the challenges in protecting their people and the potential issues in their travel risk mitigation programs. The respondents report the greatest challenges in mitigating travel risks during recent crisis were:


Access to information about the situation




Awareness of roles and responsibilities


Location of employees


Assistance on the ground



More than 40% of European organizations had difficulties with access to information and communicating with their staff in 2016. Respondents plan the following actions to mitigate risk of their mobile workforce in 2017:


Improve communication


Review/Gap analysis of travel risk policy and procedures


Provide regular training to mobile workers


Drill with crisis simulation exercises



Despite the fact organizations have mobile workforce risk management high on their agenda (64% of respondents), 60% have only a partial or no understanding at all of medical threats and hazards faced by their mobile workforce, and more than half don’t have health and wellbeing programs in place.

% of organizations which have:

Wellness program


Return to work


Impact of operations on local community health


Health communication


Understanding of the link between worker wellbeing, absenteeism and productivity


Health data protection


Training and access to expert information of mobile workers


Infectious or contagious outbreak





Dr Mark Parrish, Regional Medical Director - at International SOS commented:Organizations understand the link between worker wellbeing, absenteeism rate and long term productivity, (66% of the respondents) but only 39% have a wellness program in place despite the fact that wellbeing is likely to become increasingly important in the future and translates into better business outcomes. Preventing an infectious outbreak, an accident or sufferings is crucial for an organization. Promoting wellbeing at work and having a return to work procedure is also its responsibility to ensure the continuity of the business. Today, we see a need for the occupational safety and health practitioners to understand and implement global health risk plans within their organisation. Most organisations do something about health risks assessment and management but usually in a fairly ad hoc, uncoordinated way. The process should start with having a comprehensive review of what is done for the mobile workforce from an occupational health, sickness absence, health communication, employee health and wellness perspective.”