Duty of Care within Global Mobility
During the spread of COVID-19, the relevance and importance of duty of care for organisations and especially relocation companies was driven home. As the pandemic spread, the Management of Resettle realised, that not only were we responsible for carrying out our business well but we are responsible for the care and welfare of our employees, our clients and all stakeholders. We challenged our resolve and commitment to raise a standard of conduct in business and in policy, so that Resettle undertook each assignment and each job with renewed concern, compassion and competence. Resettle always did our best but, this year especially highlighted the importance of duty of care for us with globally mobile employees.
Although mobility is essential for the strategic global growth of any business, Resettle is well aware that this growth brings its own set of risks to both the individual and the organisation. Employees can find themselves in anything from political unrest, natural disasters, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time or as this year perfectly demonstrated, the outbreak of a disease.
Duty of care is deep-seated within most organisations’ policies and business processes when it comes to dealing with risks in the workplace, however it becomes more challenging when that workplace could be located anywhere in the world. So what can be done to provide adequate duty of care for those globally mobile employees?
What Duty of Care means for Resettle
At Resettle, we acknowledge that duty of care is an employer’s responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the employees and all other people who come in contact with our business – including our clients, our collaborators, our partners and any other parties we interact with in our daily operations. This is a broad definition and we allowed ourselves room to make this more precise.
What Steps Should Be Taken?
For Resettle, we examined our end to end processes to make sure that our corporate policy ticked all the duty of care boxes. We broke the stages down to logical steps which allowed us to manage the process more easily.
The core steps we considered were:
- Understanding the Risks
The first step was to analyse and determine the exposure to risk for our employees and our clients. Research, discussion and review allowed for assessment of risk and harm for employees and clients, depending on their locations, job functions, employee behaviour, mitigating circumstances and scheduled travel. Management was able to develop a detailed picture of the potential risk. For instance, the needs of expatriate and long-term assignees will be different to the needs of short-term assignments and business travellers.
- Developing the Policy
Once the potential risks were understood, a robust and embedded policy was developed. This has been effectively communicated to all concerned. Resettle’s management has undertaken to conduct the riskiest operational functions themselves, rather than put the team members in harm’s way. This proactive approach, rather than reactive, brings a balance and calm to the organisation as well as trust which serves the clients in good stead. Roles and responsibilities of internal and external stakeholders in as detailed form as possible, are in place.
Once the policy was put in place, it was effectively communicated to employees to ensure they are aware of the commitment undertaken by the business and also what roles they play and what is expected from them.
The team has undergone training and education in the form of online safety awareness measures as well as materials distributed on the medical risks and region-specific knowledge. Work from home for those with at-risk family members and those without personal transport was put in place.
Regular monitoring of the situation pan-India is conducted. Resettle ensures their clients are as prepared as possible before any travel or assignment commences. Covid-19 updates, travel advisories, and any specific local information is shared in advance.
Having systems in place that allows Resettle to locate and communicate swiftly and clearly with employees and clients is critical to managing and mitigating any risks.
Offering both reactive and proactive support for employees and clients daily is a key factor for any effective duty of care programme. Resettle launched many of its services online, where in employees could communicate effectively with their clients and internal teams and management was able to assess work engagement.
Having solid channels of communication enables the organisation and individuals to pre-empt, where possible, and effectively deal with any potential incidents that they may arise.
As the world is witnessing more and more frequently, there are times when businesses and employees may find themselves faced with the unimaginable. It was therefore vital that as an organisation, Resettle implemented an incident management programme to plan, avoid and respond to such crisis situations (e.g. sanitization of properties before and after house viewing, providing nearest hospital emergency procedures to newly arrived assignees, earthquake preparedness). Our incident management plan has been developed with all stakeholders both internally and externally, and we regularly revisit, update and evaluate.
It is difficult to foresee all eventualities, however having a robust duty of care policy and risk management strategy effectively implemented and communicated throughout the business has helped bring peace of mind to our trustworthy employees and our valuable clients. At Resettle, we care.