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Organizations Make Strides In Planning For The Unknown As Risk Perception Remains High

International SOS reveals the latest insights into the actions and attitudes of business decision-makers when it comes to the health, safety and security of their global mobile workforce. The Ipsos MORI Global Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018 survey, now in its second year, reveals that the perception of risk remains elevated and while organizations are increasingly implementing prevention and mitigation measures there are still opportunities for improvement as major strategic aspects are being missed.

International SOS and Control Risks launch the latest edition of its award-winning Travel Risk Map[i]. The digital map includes revised risk ratings and social sharing enhancements. Risk ratings are the reason why 42% of organizations modified travel itineraries in 2017[ii]. 

The survey found that travel plans were changed, predominantly, due to concerns over security threats (58%), followed by natural disasters (43%). This was consistent across the globe, apart from the Americas where natural disasters was first and security threats second.  At a global level these are followed by country risk ratings (42%) and civil unrest (34%).

Perception of Risk Remains at an Elevated Level

63% of business decision-makers perceive travel risks to have increased in the past year, reflecting a global softening from 72% in the previous year.  However, the Americas and Australasia regions stand out with 78% and 72% respectively reporting increased risk in 2017. Risk rating changes on the latest edition of the Travel Risk Map include increase risk in some areas of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico due to the effects of the hurricanes and a decrease in risk in some European countries thanks to improved standards of medical care.

Striving for Business Resilience

While the preventative agenda in medical and travel risk mitigation is clearly on the rise, the survey reveals that a strategic and far-reaching view may currently be a missed opportunity by many organizations. Only 9% of organizations updated their sustainability program to include their travel risk policy and just 10% introduced a wellbeing policy, falling at the bottom of the risk mitigation techniques implemented in 2017.

Dr Doug Quarry, Group Medical Director of Health Intelligence for International SOS, Medical Director of Information and Analysis for International SOS, says “A staggering 91% of organizations have potentially not included their travel risk program in their overall business sustainability program and 90% are seemingly ignoring the impact a wellbeing policy could have on their travelling workforce. This is despite an increasing understanding of how these techniques can impact within the context of the GRI Index.[iii]” 

Rob Walker, security expert at International SOS & Control Risks, comments, “Success in future global mobility programs will be those that include consideration of the changing demographic of the mobile workforce and new marketplace dynamics, including the increase in use of shared economy services. The immediate obvious risks, such as the recent hurricanes and unforeseeable security incidents, will see organizations scrutinised in terms of preventative measures and recovery.”

Risk Response & Challenges

Organizations continue to introduce risk mitigation techniques[iv]. The most frequent step taken in response to travel health and security concerns is the introduction of pre-trip and during trip emails, with 39% of decision makers reporting to have introduced this in 2017.

However, organizations still face barriers in ensuring the health and security of travelers, with educating employees about travel risk (53%) the most common challenge in ensuring the health and security of travelers, followed by communicating with employees in a crisis, and ensuring they have read pre-travel information[v] (both 44%). 

Dr Quarry, continues, “As threats, such as the plague in Madagascar, can be fast moving, timely insight is critical to travelers and organizations to avoid potentially disastrous consequences.” 

“It is promising to see that risk mitigation techniques are being prioritised, including annual health check up’s, which can be key to spotting any potential health issues that need managing prior to travel or assignments. As organizations continue to review and enhance their processes, it is important that new actions to promote a safe, healthy and well workforce are taken into account to help support and strengthen business resilience.”

View the Travel Risk Map at International SOS and Control Risks will host webinars based on the key global issues and emerging trends in December 2017. The webinars are open to the public and you can register here.           

Global Business Resilience Trends Watch is an Ipsos Mori research study conducted among 667 business decision-makers, across all types of organizations which have had previous contact relating to business travel health and security with International SOS, across 69 countries.  Research was conducted online in the period October 4th to October 20th 2017.  Respondents were those who organize, influence or are responsible for their organisation’s travel and risk mitigation policies.  Security professionals accounted for 17% of the sample, with HSE and HR staffers comprising the next biggest segments, on 15% each.

[i] The Travel Risk Map, the industry’s first integrated medical and travel security risk map, provides a comprehensive overview of medical and travel security risks by destination.

[ii] In 2017, 42% of decision-makers changed corporate travel plans due to risk ratings, compared with 32% in 2016, Finding from the Ipsos MORI Global Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018 and Business Travel Risks & Realities 2017survey respectively.

[iii] Sancroft and International SOS Foundation ‘Occupational Health & Safety and Workplace Wellness Reporting Guidelines for a Global Workforce: A Practical Guide for Internationally Operating Employers’.

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