How companies can prepare the Gen Y workforce to handle global travel risksNeeraj Dotel
Have you heard of the ‘Bleisure Traveler’? As per research by leading travel platforms, millennial employees of today are increasingly combining business with leisure, namely ‘bleisure’. Trends show that the ability to combine business and leisure travel is gaining increasing popularity amongst the millennials while considering a career option or taking up the next role. As per a poll conducted by FlexJobs last year, travelling is nearly an essential work motivation for the current and future workforce – as important as food and shelter.
This is hardly surprising since millennials come with new mindsets, new rules, and new values. This is especially true for India, as we have one of the youngest workforces in the world. More than 50 percent of India’s current population is below the age of 25, and over 65 percent below the age of 35. By 2021, young Indians below 35 years of age will form 64 percent of the total workforce. Add rising incomes, a connected and globalized workforce, and social media influence, and we are looking at a generation hungry to experience the world. Any organization looking towards attracting talent and creating a diverse and future-ready workplace will include employee travel on the list of must-dos.
Travelling is essential but risky
The potential concerns that travellers could encounter, domestically and internationally, are numerous, including geopolitical, health-related, and environmentally-related incidents.
Even in the face of such risks, business travel is on the rise, thanks to a young and ambitious workforce. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has stated that spending on global business is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2021. Despite growing global uncertainty around unforeseen events, organizations show no signs of slowing down on their business travel.
Many organizations have understood the need to extend support to their business travellers and have a certain level of duty-of-care and risk management programmes. As the workforce evolves and the extent of business travel increases, how a company protects or fails to protect their travelling employees can have make or break consequences.
Preparation is key
As organizations become aware of both the risk and the opportunity, it’s imperative that they prepare not only to fulfill duty-of-care obligations for catastrophic incidents but also consider smaller, common travel risks that can happen. Travel risk management programmes are the key, as companies incorporate employees’ safety and security in organizational rules, and be prepared to assist wherever required. The steps include:
- Establishing a crisis management team that is equipped to handle any disaster/emergency impacting the company – small or large
- A 24/7/365 support service for all employees, including global travellers, that ensures that no matter the place, there is someone available to assist or provide necessary information
- A real-time emergency contacts/communications list with a succession of responsibilities, for all members and backups on the team
- Clear emergency contact information for employees to use in case of unforeseen disasters
- A travel destination framework that assigns high- to low-risk ratings to countries. Allow travel to high-risk countries only when deemed business critical
- A traveller/employee tracking application/system that can track and assess employee situations in real time
- As support for extenuating circumstances, keeping a global medical support service provider as a backup
- Educating employees as much as possible about their safety and security
- Developing clear and concise messaging for employees during a disaster/emergency
As young India rises and corporates struggle with the need to build a talented and loyal workforce, they cannot afford to be careless about the safety and security of their employees during travel – outstation as well as otherwise. This is the right time to implement a travel risk management programme or re-evaluate your existing programme to make sure companies are able to monitor, locate, and communicate to all employees and fulfil their duty-of-care obligation if a crisis arises.
Neeraj Dotel is Managing Director, India & SAARC, SAP Concur.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)