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Organizations Make Strides in Planning for the Unknown as Risk Perception Remains High, but Major Business Resilience Aspects Are Being Missed Reports International SOS
[November 14, 2017]

Organizations Make Strides in Planning for the Unknown as Risk Perception Remains High, but Major Business Resilience Aspects Are Being Missed Reports International SOS

International SOS (News - Alert) today reveals the latest insights into the actions and attitudes of business decision-makers when it comes to the health, safety and security of their global mobile workforce. The Ipsos MORI Global Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018 survey, now in its second year, reveals that the perception of risk remains elevated and while organizations are increasingly implementing prevention and mitigation measures there are still opportunities for improvement as major strategic aspects are being missed.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

International SOS outlines business resilience trends for 2018. (Photo: Business Wire)

International SOS outlines business resilience trends for 2018. (Photo: Business Wire)

International SOS and Control Risks launch the latest edition of its award-winning Travel Risk Map1. The digital map includes revised risk ratings and social sharing enhancements. Risk ratings are the reason why 42% of organizations modified travel itineraries in 20172.

The survey found that travel plans were changed, predominantly, due to concerns over security threats (58%), followed by natural disasters (43%). This was consistent across the globe, apart from the Americas where natural disasters was first and security threats second. At a global level, these are followed by country risk ratings (42%) and civil unrest (34%).

Perception of Risk Remains at an Elevated Level

63% of business decision-makers perceive travel risks to have increased in the past year, reflecting a global softening from 72% in the previous year. However, the Americas and Australasia regions stand out with 78% and 72% respectively reporting increased risk in 2017. Risk rating changes on the latest edition of the Travel Risk Map include increase risk in some areas of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico due to the effects of the hurricanes and a decrease in risk in some European countries thanks to improved standards of medical care.

Striving for Business Resilience

While the preventative agenda in medical and travel risk mitigation is clearly on the rise, the survey reveals that a strategic and far-reaching view may currently be a missed opportunity by many organizations. Only 9% of organizations updated their sustainability program to include their travel risk policy and just 10% introduced a wellbeing policy, falling at the bottom of the risk mitigation techniques implemented in 2017.

Dr. Doug Quarry, Group Medical Director of Health Intelligence for International SOS, Medical Director of Information and Analysis for International SOS, says, "A staggering 91% of organizations have potentially not included their travel risk program in their overall business sustainability program and 90% are seemingly ignoring the impact a wellbeing policy could have on their traveling workforce. This is despite an increasing understanding of how these techniques can impact within the context of the GRI Index.3"


Opportunities for future business resilience through a robust travel risk mitigation program


Updated sustainability program to include travel risk program


Introduced a wellbeing policy

13%     Monitored the number of road traffic incidents

Updated travel risk policy to include diversity-related issues (e.g. LGBT, female travelers, travelers with disabilities)


Implemented a program for people to understand existing health issues while away on business


Rob Walker, security expert at International SOS & Control Risks, comments, "Success in future global mobility programs will be those that include consideration of the changing demographic of the mobile workforce and new marketplace dynamics, including the increase in use of shared economy services. The immediate obvious risks, such as the recent hurricanes and unforeseeable security incidents, will see organizations scrutinized in terms of preventative measures and recovery."

Risk Response & Challenges

Organizations continue to introduce risk mitigation techniques4. The most frequent step taken in response to travel health and security concerns is the introduction of pre-trip and during trip emails, with 39% of decision makers reporting to have introduced this in 2017.

However, organizations still face barriers in ensuring the health and security of travelers, with educating employees about travel risk (53%) the most common challenge in ensuring the health and security of travelers, followed by communicating with employees in a crisis, and ensuring they have read pre-travel information5 (both 44%).

Dr. Quarry, continues, "As threats, such as the plague in Madagascar, can be fast moving, timely insight is critical to travelers and organizations to avoid potentially disastrous consequences."

"It is promising to see that risk mitigation techniques are being prioritized, including annual health check ups, which can be key to spotting any potential health issues that need managing prior to travel or assignments. As organizations continue to review and enhance their processes, it is important that new actions to promote a safe, healthy and well workforce are taken into account to help support and strengthen business resilience."

View the Travel Risk Map at International SOS and Control Risks will host webinars based on the key global issues and emerging trends in December 2017. The webinars are open to the public and you can register here.

Global Business Resilience Trends Watch is an Ipsos Mori research study conducted among 667 business decision-makers, across all types of organizations which have had previous contact relating to business travel health and security with International SOS, across 69 countries. Research was conducted online in the period October 4th to October 20th 2017. Respondents were those who organize, influence or are responsible for their organization's travel and risk mitigation policies. Security professionals accounted for 17% of the sample, with HSE and HR staffers comprising the next biggest segments, on 15% each.

Notes to Editors:

The Analysis Behind the Travel Risk Map:

  • Medical Risk Ratings are determined by the International SOS Medical Information and Analysis team by assessing a range of health risks and mitigating factors including: infectious diseases, environmental factors, medical evacuation data, the standard of available local emergency medical and dental care, access to quality pharmaceutical supplies, and cultural, language or administrative barriers. Individual country medical risk ratings are determined via a proprietary algorithm based on 24 indicators with content coming from public data sources and the first-hand knowledge of International SOS Regional Medical Directors.
  • Travel security risk ratings are developed by International SOS and Control Risks and are based on the current threat posed to travelers and international assignees by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) as well as violent and petty crime. Other factors, such as the robustness of the transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations, the effectiveness of the security and emergency services and the country's susceptibility to natural disasters are also considered where they are of sufficient magnitude to impact the overall risk environment for travelers.

About International SOS and Control Risks

Our alliance brings together two of the world's leading medical and security specialists, International SOS and Control Risks. Our combined resources and expertise are well placed to meet the customers' growing need for integrated travel security risk services. Our solutions ensure that mobile employees are safe and productive and help employers with their duty of care obligations. 50 dedicated experts, located across the globe with access to over 200 dedicated travel security experts through 27 regional assistance centers and a partner network of over 700 accredited providers, produce global travel security information and analysis 24/7. We also provide travel security training, preventative travel assessment, support with the development of travel security risk policies, evacuation plans and the latest technology to enable clients to track and communicate with their mobile employees.

1 The Travel Risk Map, the industry's first integrated medical and travel security risk map, provides a comprehensive overview of medical and travel security risks by destination.

2 In 2017, 42% of decision-makers changed corporate travel plans due to risk ratings, compared with 32% in 2016, Finding from the Ipsos MORI Global Business Resilience Trends Watch 2018 and Business Travel Risks & Realities 2017 survey respectively.

3 Sancroft and International SOS Foundation 'Occupational Health & Safety and Workplace Wellness Reporting Guidelines for a Global Workforce: A Practical Guide for Internationally Operating Employers'.


        Top 6 techniques introduced in response to medical and security risk concerns



Introduced pre-trip and during trip advisory emails




Included travel risk assessment in travel approval process




Implemented travel safety training and security training




Provided annual health check-ups




Updated travel risk policy (excluding diversity related issues)




Implemented programs to locate travelers



        Top 5 Challenges in securing the safety and security of the mobile workforce



Educating employees about travel risks




Confirming employees have read pre-travel information




Communicating with employees during a crisis




Tracking employee travel




Having adequate resources to manage health and security efforts


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