When I hear the phrase ‘workplace wellbeing’, my mind takes me to mid-range offices with free yoga classes, mental health helplines and fruit boxes that are empty (bar the kiwi) by Tuesday. But what about the millions of people whose work extends beyond the office walls and travel for business?
What about those who take their workplace with them in cars, trains, planes, to hotels, other companies, cities, countries and continents? What does workplace wellbeing look like then? And where does an organisation’s moral and legal duty of care obligations to keep travellers safe start – and stop?
Working travellers need support
If your organisation has workers who travel on business, then it’s legally and morally obligated to do everything reasonably possible to mitigate risks pre-travel, keep them safe while travelling, and ensure you can communicate with them (and them with you) in the event of an emergency.
The last few years have brought unrelenting global uncertainty, ranging from a health pandemic to war and civil unrest in the Middle East and Ukraine, climate-related disasters, legislative changes following Brexit, and more. To help businesses address these challenges and establish and maintain effective travel risk management programmes, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) developed the ISO 31030 framework.
Utilising the ISO framework
ISO 31030 was introduced in September 2021 and is still ‘just’ a framework, not yet a legal requirement, though adhering to it can help companies meet EU regulation. It covers four key components – independent evaluation, risk assessment and planning, duty of care and communication and monitoring – and it’s undoubtedly a useful tool for helping companies systematically and proactively assess and mitigate travel-associated risks, understand their duty of care safeguarding obligations and reduce likelihood of harm.
Risk assessment / mitigation, for example, involves understanding all potential risks a traveller could be exposing to by sending them to a specific location whether that’s because of war, terrorism or civil unrest, extreme weather, statutory rights, or something else, and bear in mind that these will change daily. It’s critical to be aware of these risks so that you can give extra consideration to travellers from marginalised communities whose safety may be impacted.
And, once travellers are on the road, traveller tracking technology is key. Do you know where they are at any given time? Who they are with? How to communicate with them if there’s a delay, cancellation, change in booking or an emergency? Companies with a well-structured travel risk and crisis management programme – whether that’s aligned to ISO 31030 or not – will be better equipped to respond to emergencies with swift decision-making and coordinated responses, minimising disruptions, and ensuring the safety of employees.
The ‘little things’ matter, too
But good travel management is not all about preparing for and managing emergencies, duty of care for business travellers extends beyond the crises; the little things matter, too – someone losing their passport, missing a flight, or leaving their luggage in a taxi. These details may seem insignificant, but they can all pick away at a travellers’ mental and physical health, so it’s important to have access to technology that both identifies travel behaviours and trends that could impact the wellbeing of your travelling workforce and nudges them into making positive behaviour changes.
The right technology can give access to a broad range of travel metrics, including:
- Number of nights away: Identify travellers at low / moderate / high risk of adverse wellbeing based on the number of nights away per month.
- Frequent travellers: Identify frequent travellers by a variety of metrics including mileage, number of trips, nights away from home and more.
- ‘Red-Eye’ flights: Identify potential traveller fatigue by tracking frequent ‘red eye’ travellers (late night, early morning travel).
- Same day return travel: Identify potential risks of frequent same day travel.
- Fare class usage by flight duration: Identify fare class usage (Economy, Premium, Business, First) by short, medium and long-haul itineraries in line with your existing travel policy.
- Time-zones crossed: Identify travellers at greater risk of jetlag by the number and frequency of time-zones crossed.
- Mean days between trips: Understand the mean average interval between trips for your travellers.
Having information like this available in the booking technology to whoever manages the business’s travel – as well as the travellers themselves – will help to ensure decisions are made that support employee wellness, enhance duty of care, and maximise productivity – a win, win for all involved.
A framework for proactive risk management
In the dynamic landscape of business travel, ensuring employee wellbeing extends beyond the office. The introduction of ISO 31030 provides a valuable framework for organisations to proactively manage travel-associated risks and fulfil duty of care obligations.
From pre-travel risk assessment to constant communication and crisis response, adherence to ISO 31030 equips companies to navigate global uncertainties effectively. Beyond emergencies, the implementation of technology to monitor travel metrics, from nights away to flight patterns, becomes crucial for supporting employee wellness.
Ultimately, prioritising travel risk management not only safeguards employees but also fosters a productive and resilient workforce.
Shelley has worked in the travel industry for over 16 years, including sales roles at two other TMCs, where she was promoted to head of sales and invited to join the executive board within 12 months. In 2015 Shelley joined Chambers Travel Management as Director of Sales. When CTM and Chambers merged in 2016, Shelley was then promoted to General Manager Sales. Shelley is now EVP Sales and heads and manages both the sales and client services teams.