How to manage the unexpected
Our roundtable participants from left: Tanya Racz; Jacques Thibault; Sherry Marshall; David Hyde; and Brian Robertson.
Whether it’s the threat of terrorist action, natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes or tsunami, or flights cancelled due to technical malfunctions on a plane, corporate travel carries with it inherent risks for both the business traveller and the organization that he or she is travelling for. But there are steps organizations can take to mitigate those risks.
When the dangers and risks associated with travelling for business get mentioned, several recent situations come to mind. The 2010 eruption of Iceland’s Mount Eyjafjallajökull and the ash cloud it sent across Europe, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan or Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012 that hit New York all added complexity and a layer of risk for employees travelling on business. Illness, potential terrorist action, civil unrest and cancelled flights can also present challenges to businesses. Perhaps more than ever, organizations and their employees must consider the risks that those travelling on business face on the road. But there are strategies, technologies and resources that can help mitigate those risks and offer travellers a safer and more productive experience.
On November 7, our roundtable panel met at Travel Management Canada’s offices to discuss those and related topics. At the table were: Brian Robertson, chief operating officer at travel management company Vision 2000; David Hyde, the owner and principal consultant at David Hyde & Associates; and Jacques Thibault, president of technology company Magnatech. Joining the conversation via teleconference was Tanya Racz, president and CEO of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Canada. Travel Management Canada editor, Michael Power, moderated the discussion.
Do your duty
The group started with a discussion of duty of care, an issue central to the notion of keeping travellers safe on the road. Duty of care is a legal standard requiring an employer to exercise “due diligence” in taking all reasonable steps to protect employees from foreseeable harm. In the context of business travel, the ability to demonstrate due diligence is key to avoiding claims of employer negligence if a travelling employee suffers harm.
David Hyde stressed the legal obligation inherent in the concept of duty of care, noting that it has a long history in the law. He also pointed out that, in the context of travel management, duty of care involved taking “reasonable steps” to protect the safety and security of employees, that doesn’t include “all possible steps.” The definition included the concept of protecting employees against risks that were “foreseeable,” Hyde said, and the list of factors that organizations can foresee is changing constantly.
“Duty of care isn’t a linear concept or a frozen-in-time concept, but it’s something that’s going to dynamically change over the course of time,” he said. “And that’s very important, particularly for larger organizations that are sending employees around the world. It’s not a one-shot deal, where you get your duty of care plans and policies in place. The risks change and the factors change, and the laws change, so the concept of duty of care is an evolving one.”