International SOS says crisis management remains one of organisations’ biggest challenges

Domestic workforce risks should be embedded into your crisis management strategy, writes Erika.

By International SOS Erika Weisbrod, director of Security Solutions, Americas and Dr. David Teo regional medical director, Asia.

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised many new challenges, requiring employers to take adequate measures to ensure their workforces remain safe, healthy and resilient.

Even though we observed fewer trips among our clients’ organisations, domestic and short-term travel have recently kickstarted with the opening of corridors.

Present challenges for domestic travellers include real-time information on local regulations and rapidly evolving restrictions, mental health and wellbeing solutions to support lockdowns and changing work environments, and medical and security advice to address ongoing risks.

In fact, our clients’ employees now call us five times more for support when they travel. Forty percent of all requests we receive now are directly related to Covid-19 (return to travel, return to work, return to site and medical testing arrangements).

Due to the pandemic, organisations have been forced to widen their crisis management response, embedding domestic workforce assistance and protection more than ever before. With a domestic population in mind, stakeholders often need to rethink their crisis management and response approach in a more holistic way.

Addressing your different populations’ needs
Protecting a diverse workforce, working in a range of environments from office-based to home working, requires identifying the unique risks posed to differing personal risk profiles.

Every profile has unique health and security risks that must be addressed in a specific manner. In addition to office-based and home-working employees, remote site workers have unique risks that present extra challenges (e.g., constant isolation, and specific testing procedures).

Prior to the pandemic, employers considered assistance solutions specifically for their mobile and international workers. However, the current environment has underscored that risk is everywhere, even for those within their home country.

In fact, 25 percent more clients have used International SOS’s services in 2021 to support their domestic workforce than in 2019. Our health and security experts have defined a preventive approach to mitigate the risks challenging your domestic employees:

  • Educate your people: Even in a known environment, such as your home country, a crisis can impact our judgment and risk profile. Training and educating your people on all of the preventive measures that should be adopted can help them be better prepared in light of a crisis.

  • Source real-time information: Especially on topics related to Covid-19 and vaccination where a current infodemic prevails, it is critical to ensure that your workforce has access to real-time and accurate information to make informed decisions. On-the-ground, 24/7 experts are often best placed to provide your workforce and organisational decision-makers with timely and actionable intelligence to be prepared and respond appropriately.

  • Address your people’s wellbeing head on: Both physical and mental health are essential to the wellbeing of your workforce. Building and implementing a comprehensive wellbeing programme, including mental health and emotional support solutions, will help your workforce remain confident and be better suited to thrive during turbulent times.

  • Provide quality care for peace of mind: In times of crisis, especially a pandemic, public healthcare systems can rapidly be overwhelmed and accessing quality care can become a challenge for your people even in their home country. Providing access to trained health and security experts, with local knowledge and expertise will allow you to maximise the productivity and wellbeing of your workforce.

Crisis communications at the core
On top of providing the right assistance services for their whole workforce, crisis communications remains one of the biggest challenges for organisations.

In addition to providing risk management services to support a broader workforce, organisations have also been prompted to address the need for effective crisis communication.

When it comes to crisis scenarios or turbulent times, it is key to have an integrated and comprehensive communication plan and process.

Providing relevant communications and training will help ensure that your employees are aware of their role and expected responsibilities during an incident and support your organisation’s operation resilience.

Dedicated crisis management training is usually an effective way for stakeholders to get a deep understanding on crisis management and communication implementation.

The International SOS Foundation recently launched a new virtual training course entitled Crisis Management Response and Leadership.

This virtual training course, which is certified by CPD, is designed to provide individuals responsible for, or part of, their organisations crisis management team with the competencies necessary to actively participate in protection and resilience of their organisation, people and assets.

Partnering with our dedicated experts can enable your organisation to implement an appropriate and sustainable crisis communication and management strategy inclusive of your entire workforce. We help to ensure that your organisation adopts a comprehensive and integrated approach, considering both health and security risks.