For employers who do business across international borders, it’s not uncommon to send employees abroad. That face-to-face interaction between your employees and other offices you operate globally, or your clients or partners, can be invaluable.
At the same time, as an employer, you bear some of the responsibility for making sure your employees are safe when they’re working abroad.
You need to have plans in place, whether it involves alerting your employees of an impending situation of civil unrest in the Philippines or sending money to Ecuador to help an employee whose items have been stolen. Regardless of the specifics, this burden of keeping employees as safe as possible is a pivotal part of being an employer.
The following are some tips employers can follow, in a general sense, to help protect traveling employees.
Utilize Local Resources
When you have employees traveling, particularly to areas that could be considered high-risk, it’s a good idea to proactively work with local resources in that country to support your employees.
For example, you can contact the U.S. embassy that’s local to the country where your employees are going to be traveling. Ask their advice as to anything your employees should be aware of.
Depending on how many employees will be traveling and the specific situations they will be in, you might also consider private security.
You should also work with your employees to proactively go through various scenarios that could be a risk when they’re abroad, such as petty theft of cash (which would necessitate getting them more money quickly), or having important travel documents stolen.
Provide Logistics Information
When your employees are going abroad, as an employer you should begin by thoroughly researching the destination to where they’ll be going. Make sure you do comprehensive research on the hotel where they’ll be staying, and how they’ll get around while they’re away.
Employees should have a set itinerary, and it’s a good idea for the employer to create a packet that tells them what they need to know about travel logistics, and the steps to take if certain situations do happen.
Have Communication Plans in Place
You want to ensure there is a plan in place for how and when your employees will be in touch. You should outline specifically what expectations are, and go through the ways employees can effectively contact their home office.
Then, if you don’t hear from that employee while they’re traveling, you’ll be better equipped to know if an emergency has arisen.
Consider Travel Insurance
You might think about covering the cost of travel insurance for your employees who travel.
If they have to be evacuated for any reason, travel insurance can cover the costs. Medical emergencies can be covered as well, and it can just provide peace of mind to your employees so they can focus on the work they’re traveling to do.
Finally, the U.S. State Department has a program called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP. This is a free service, and U.S. citizens can enroll with the U.S. embassy that will be nearest to them while they’re traveling. They will then receive updated safety and security information, and they can let the Embassy know where they are if something happens.