For the past 20 years of my life I have been a road warrior. So, like nearly every week, I was on the road. After wrapping up my meeting, I ordered a ride-share and was on my way to airport. Not seeing the oncoming car, the driver of my car turned left into traffic and we were hit. Fortunately, I, and everyone else, walked away shaken but with only minor bumps and bruises. There I was, literally on the road, and seasoned as I am to travel, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do next. To their credit, the ride-share company’s customer service came through for me and took care of helping get me to the airport and eventually home.
Back at home, I gave no thought to the fact I had been in a different state, over 1,200 miles away from my office. What does that mean for me if that sore back and neck I woke up with didn’t get any better? Would workman’s comp cover me? Would health insurance cover me? Would I have to pay out of pocket to cover my own deductible? Would the ride share company’s coverage help me out at all? After a rough night of sleep, I postponed a meeting and word reached my boss. After reaching out ensuring that I was okay, he helped me begin find our HR business partners to make sure I was taken care of. Short of him calling, I would have just soldiered on trying to figure all this out myself.
The very next day (no seriously), a former teammate, while she was in a meeting, had her rental car side-swiped in a parking lot. Having traveled together quite a bit, she texted me asking who I would contact to get help. I suggested looking up the emergency phone numbers provided in her travel booking tool. When called, the agent indicated since no one was hurt, that the line was for emergency help only, not property damage. The next thing she thought to do was to call the travel management company. Other than to offer to get a tow truck or a new rental car, they really couldn’t assist much. As it turned out, it is issue for the corporate card, who provides the supplemental travel insurance. If she had been in a rush for her plane and just filed a police report providing her personal proof of insurance, would this have increased her own rates? Would the rental agency have come after her to pay the deductible? Like my own incident, this was no fault of hers. It is a company issue. Duty of care is not typically the big massive events that make the news. These two stories are the personalization of what duty of care looks like on a day to day basis. Happily, I can report that both of us were taken care of and are no worse for wear.
As road warriors, you would think the both of us would know how to deal with these situations. But if I am honest, the last time I read the T/E policy was when I signed it the day I got hired—years ago. Fortunately, accidents are few and far between and even if I was told how to deal with this kind of situation, I didn’t pay much attention. I was more concerned with getting my 401(k) and email setup. But companies are paying attention. As our world gets more and more dangerous every day, thoughtful consideration is being given to clearly defining Duty of Care practices and procedures because they are no longer nice to have.
Sadly, terms like Duty of Care trigger images of the big, scary things that happen in the world: major weather events, domestic and international terrorism and other geopolitical unrest. The reality is that most incidents are much more like my story—a personal, individual events. The two examples I retold are prime examples of how a true Duty of Care program, no matter what your organization’s size, starts with one single thing—and that doesn’t require you to buy anything. Put simply, Duty of Care starts with employee education.
Where and how does that education start? Nearly every organization I talk to has a travel and expense policy. Often those policies were written by the finance department with some input from travel, primarily to ensure the traveler knows what they can and can’t spend and where they can spend it. But we, as business travelers, aren’t dollars and cents, we are people. People who, on hopefully exceptionally rare occasion, need to know that our company stands behind us and will take care of us. Changing the way we think and talk about it from our T/E Policy to a Travel and Safety Guide on how to travel wisely, safely and cost effectively seems like a minor thing; but, it is truly a huge shift. I am not advocating for throwing out all the financial aspects of a policy favor of personal safety. Simply, that we need to marry the two elements in such a way that people understand how it impacts their personal safety and how they impact the organizations financial safety. When an individual joins the company, and more importantly as you make updates on, what should be, a regular basis, take the time to clearly communicate not only what is in the Guide but why it is there. Making it personal for the travelers and spenders makes it more likely they will pay attention.
So, what are forward looking companies including in their Guide and the subsequent training?
You’ve read this far, thank you, truly. I realize that these are just high-level pointers. In posts over the next two weeks, I will provide more concrete examples of how we can intelligently craft a Travel and Safety Guide that is all informed by Duty of Care. Subscribe today to get updates on all the new content on the SAP Concur Expert Corner.