Picture a map of the world. Can you identify every country? How would you feel if you were asked to point out a country, and you didn’t know where it was? Now how would you feel if your boss wanted you to fly there?
Jeffrey works for a major ink-jet manufacturer, spearheading some of their expansion initiatives. As part of one project, they planned to establish a new plant to mine gold for their ink cartridges. Jeffrey was working on the mining initiative, so it seemed natural that he supervise the initial phases of development. This would involve spending 3 months on-site in the Kayes region of Mali – a country Jeffrey couldn’t even locate on the map.
“I’m not an adventurous guy,” confesses Jeffrey. “I mean, I’d never done more than a weekend at Niagara Falls. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about crossing the world.”
Business Travel More Frequent
In 2018, an estimated 1.5 million Canadians travelled out of the country for business, with Canada ranked one of the top 15 countries in business-travel spending.
Corporate travel is no longer uniquely the domain of high-level sales managers. An increasingly wide variety of employees find themselves needing to travel for work, and it’s estimated that most corporate travellers will take 12-14 trips per year, domestically and internationally. For employers, this can create an increased legal imperative, as business travel falls within employers’ Duty of Care legislation for Occupational Health and Safety (part II of the Canada Labour Code).
With business travel statistics continuously on the rise, employees and employers alike find themselves looking for ways to organize these trips so that corporate travellers are safe and informed.
As his departure date approached, Jeffrey found himself knocking on the door of his HR manager, Carol, with lots of little questions about the region he was travelling to, such as the state of the roads, nearby health care facilities, and other details. “He could have just searched Google for a lot of it,” says Carol. “I think he was really just looking for some support. And we wanted to give it to him.”
While checking on Jeffrey’s medical coverage, Carol came across the Travel Navigator service that was bundled in with the company’s employee benefit package. The smartphone-app-driven service provides clear and real-time information about an employee’s destination, and also allows employers to check in with their employees throughout their trip. “Jeffrey could find the answers to his questions,” said Carol, “and we felt like we were supporting him appropriately.”
And in the Unlikely Event…
On his second day in Mali, Jeffrey learned some concerning news. His driver mentioned that there had been a kidnapping near the site of the plant a few days before. “Sekou, my driver, seemed unconcerned about it,” says Jeffrey. “He kept reassuring me that we would be fine to travel to the plant the next day, but I wanted more information.”
Jeffrey checked the information in his Travel Navigator app, and discovered that kidnappings, while a definite concern in Mali, were largely focused in the northern regions. He was also able to contact Carol directly through the app to let her know the situation.
Help From a Distance
The kidnappings hadn’t made the news in Canada, so Carol was both surprised and relieved to hear from Jeffrey. “We were glad he was safe,” says Carol, “and it allowed us to initiate the required risk assessments and employer protection measures outlined in our employee Health and Safety policy.” She was able to arrange for some additional protection for Jeffrey for his journeys to and from the plant for the first week of visits. “We didn’t think there would be an incident,” she says, “but it was important to us that Jeffrey feel as comfortable there as he would in his own office.”
Jeffrey felt safe in his journeys to the plant, and was able to get the project going with no further hassle. He even found a bit of an adventurous side. “Before I left, the most exotic place I’d seen was Niagara Falls,” admits Jeffrey. “Now I can talk about the beauty of Gouina Falls, more than 7,000km away!”