According to the Ipsos MORI ‘Business Resilience Trends Watch 2019’, a significant number of business decision-makers expect travel risks to rise next year. However, this demonstrates a decrease year on year for the past three years:

  • 47% say travel risks have increased over the past year. A drop of 16 percentage points (pp) from last year. Down from 63% from last year and 72% the year before.
  • 45% say that risks have stayed the same over the last year (2018), an increase of 14 pp from last year (31%) and up from 24% the year before.
  • 43% expect travel risks to increase in 2019. Down from 52% predicting risk increase in 2018 and 57% in 2017.

Sally Napper, Security Specialist at International SOS and Control Risks commented: “Almost half of decision makers believe that travel risks will increase next year. Our research reveals that the evolving travel habits of the modern workforce are being overlooked by many organizations. Ensuring policies stay relevant to the needs of a modern workforce helps to keep your people safer and better informed, and also demonstrates the continuing importance of adaptive risk management programs - and could help win board approval and support for other initiatives.”

While employees’ demands and expectations are constantly evolving, the survey finds that travel policies are not keeping up with the changing needs of a modern workforce:

  • Only a third (33%) of organizations cover cyber security in their travel policy
  • Just over a quarter (26%) cover considerations for female travelers
  • 18% cover bleisure travel and 14% shared economy services
  • Considerations for travelers with disabilities or mental health issues are covered by 10% and 11% of travel policies respectively
  • Considerations for LGBTQ travellers are covered by just 9% of travel policies

Dr Doug Quarry, Group Medical Director, Information and Analysis, at International SOS added: “Assessment of travel health and safety must look at the individual. It’s not just about the destination – the personal profile of the traveler, including gender, age, sexual orientation, and mental health status, can change the risks they will face. Businesses that focus on ensuring their travel policies reflect a modern workforce will better meet their Duty of Care and sustainability.”

As in the previous ‘Business Resilience Trends Watch’ research, educating employees about travel risks (63%) has remained the greatest challenge for ensuring the safety of travelers and has become an increasing issue, up by 10pp. This is followed by:

  • Confirming with employees that they have read pre-travel information (44%)
  • Tracking employee travel (42%)
  • Communicating with employees during a crisis (42%)
  • Having adequate resources to manage health and security efforts (40%)

Actions being undertaken by organizations to protect their mobile workforce:

Including a travel risk assessment in the travel approval process is the most common response to health and security concerns over the past year, selected by 42% of respondents. The next most popular responses include:

  • Implemented travel safety training and security training (39%)
  • Introducing pre-trip and during trip advisory emails (38%)
  • Updated travel risk policy (excluding diversity related issues) (36%)
  • Monitor and analyze type and quantity of health and security incidents (29%)
  • Implemented programs to locate travelers (29%)
  • Provided annual health check-up’s (28%)

Dr Quarry, continued: “Education and training are essential to reduce travel-related risk. It is surprising that we are still seeing less than half of organizations taking these basic steps to satisfy their Duty of Care. These programs increase the chances that employees’ assignments will run smoothly – safeguarding the employee and also the business investment involved in the travel.”

Alongside not covering key points like mental health and diversity issues in their travel policy, there are other things that few businesses are currently doing:

  • Only 9% updated their company sustainability program to include their travel risk program
  • Only 11% monitored the number of road traffic accidents
  • Only 21% implemented a program for people to understand their existing health issues while away on business