Preparing employees for their international assignments is an essential element to successfully managing a global mobility program. Providing employees with the tools and resources they need to manage through a crisis can help remove some of the uncertainty and apprehension of moving internationally. With the right support, relocating employees feel more in control and more confident that they can handle an issue, if one should arise.
Many companies overlook the seriousness of proper crisis management planning. Often, they do not truly understand their role nor their responsibility as in "duty of care." According to International SOS, when sponsoring employees abroad, employers carry an increased “duty of care” obligation to protect their employees from familiar—yet often foreseeable—risks and threats.
Many companies do not have processes or partners in place that would provide for a robust crisis management plan. However, many companies invest in travel insurance, which often includes some type of emergency assistance program for employees, but sometimes the limitations of the insurance do not cover crisis management. There are frequently gaps that can leave employees vulnerable.
Companies should consider:
- Perceived high-risk locations where they are operating
- Potential risks and threats faced by employees in those locations
- Awareness by company, industry, key stakeholders and departments of these high risk locations
- Primary, coordination and decision-making responsibilities within companies when a crisis does occur
- The company's motivation for assuming responsibility
- Legal and moral obligations
In this Mercer article, whether a crisis comes in the shape of natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, political turmoil or civil wars, they provide some important things to bear in mind when dealing with emergencies and hardship locations in general.
Additionally, consider reading Plus's article on How to Keep Relocating Employees Safe.
The multiplicity of crises in 2017 – natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, political turmoil, and civil wars – have reminded us that sending employees on international assignments can represent a huge responsibility and a difficult task to manage. It’s true that HR teams will not face these issues alone and will be supported by other teams within the company as well as external advisers. Still, HR teams will be on the front line when dealing with some of these dramatic events and their consequences for international assignees. Here are some important things to bear in mind when dealing with emergencies and hardship locations in general.