Are You Doing Enough to Care for your People?

By Kevin Huhn

Take care of your people and your people will take care of your customers. Nothing could be truer for a company in today’s marketplace.

For over 30 years as a hockey coach my job was to guide my players with strategies and methodologies so they knew how, when and where to apply their skills to achieve a common goal. But above all, my chief concern was always the health and safety of my team. As a hockey coach, I had taken an oath to ensure my players would not be put into harm’s way, especially when duty of care could have prevented an issue.

It’s the same in business. Leaders must make the same commitment and maintain duty of care for their people.

Isn’t ‘caring’ for employees an HR thing?

For most businesses, the human resources department is known as the go-to place for employee issues, guidance and support. But duty of care is not just an “HR thing”. Every business owner, executive, manager and supervisor is responsible for keeping employees safe and helping protect them should the unfortunate occur. This obligation is called duty of care.

When I was in the travel industry my last position was global account manager for a travel management company. I was responsible for measuring, enforcing and managing the components of a company’s travel policy. Most of the time a travel policy was put in place to help control costs and direct spend to ensure supplier agreements were adhered to.

But travel policy is no longer just about managing costs. I connected with Kevin Craig, Managing Director of SAP Concur in Canada, a global cloud-based automated travel and spend-management company. He said, “Businesses today need to make duty of care a priority.”

Craig says there are a number of factors that have thrust duty of care into the consciousness of not just HR or people managers, but also C-suite executives.

“We are seeing growing global uncertainty coupled with a proliferation of ways in which employees can book travel,” he says. “This creates a complex operating structure where companies are grappling with the ability to accurately capture and control spend, capture accurate data on where people are and when — all while ensuring they have the necessary structure in place to help their employees in an emergency. It’s a legal obligation to maintain duty of care, but it’s also just the right thing to do.”

A common reaction to this growing complexity is to restrict employee choice when travelling so companies feel they have greater control, but a limiting approach could be detrimental to the overall duty of care strategy.

In the same way companies have now widely embraced Bring Your Own Device policies, Craig recommends deploying policies that fit within the preferences of your employees. Rather than a company enforcing one policy and causing frustrations, solutions should be provided to organizations that allow employees to exercise their habits within a corporate policy – without sacrificing cost and control. And embracing employee preference is critical to effective duty of care because companies need the full picture to ensure employee safety.

Duty of Care Strategy

Businesses are waking up to the need to have not just protocols in place but a system that can handle the complexity of today’s corporate travel environment. According to Business Travel Show’s 2017 forecast, businesses identify duty of care as one of the top challenges they face. According to SAP Concur, based on the registered users of their duty of care solution, Concur Locate, the number of users who received alerts and messages grew from 151,000 in January 2016 to 1.3 million in December 2016, representing a 770% increase.

Those who are doing duty of care best are turning to technologically advanced solutions that can provide near-instant communication with employees when needed by utilizing location and travel data. For businesses looking for better ways to manage duty of care – whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small business with 10 employees – Craig recommends simple steps that companies can implement and manage their duty of care program.

1. Bring in the right policy. Implement and actively enforce policies that cover travel safety, health and security, while also allowing for flexibility in certain circumstances so employees can easily adjust trip logistics while staying compliant. For example, the ability to quickly set authorizations to help employees purchase new tickets if they need to re-direct their trip.

2. Expand risk intelligence. Conduct risk assessments to understand and efficiently communicate relevant safety, health and security risks that may impact travelling employees, or even those based in offices in areas that may be compromised.

3. Gather location and itinerary information. Put systems in place that allow you to pinpoint the location of employees at any given time, while leveraging travel itineraries to monitor developments that may impact various aspects of an employee’s business trip.

4. Communicate with employees. Ensure you have systems in place that allow you to effectively relay key information to employees, regardless of their location, and also equip employees to easily communicate back.

Diligent on Duty of Care

The action items for any business are clear. And with the right partner it can be easy too. Businesses must be able to meet their duty of care for their employees. Businesses must be able quickly find and communicate with employees in the event of an emergency or business continuity issue. And to do so successfully, businesses need to leverage all the data available to them for a comprehensive view into every employee’s whereabouts.

That’s the kind of team we all want to play for.

Kevin Huhn is the Founder of Be Your Best Today and through its mission wants to help business owners reinvent their brand with proven systems, programs and products that engage, empower and enlighten in order to impact their rate of success. To learn more visit kevinhuhn.com

Recommended
Borkowski - Do you work when sickWorsley - Showing up to your customers