It’s difficult to think of any business function or resource that hasn’t been re-evaluated in light of the coronavirus outbreak – particularly those involving the care and safety of employees. One of the most common and comprehensive documents of this sort are duty of responsible care plans. These vary from company to company, but in essence, they are how the organization will provide adequate care for their employees in all aspects of their business. It’s no surprise that these plans can be quite extensive depending on the organization.
For those that relocate employees with any regularity, it’s important their duty of care policy accounts for the move process and destination considerations. Beyond the legal obligation to provide the basic elements of care, businesses should think about all the facets of how the transition will impact the employee and their family and how to best support them during this time and beyond.
Identify and implement duty of care policies that put employee health and safety first
You never hear negative stories about a company that went above and beyond in caring for their employees. Whether they are on a temporary domestic assignment or an open-ended international relocation, your employees are people, and their safety must come before “business decisions.”
Regarding relocation, what potential issues do you need to build policies and procedures around? For example, some initial questions to consider include:
- What safety protocols do you require of your vendors? How will they help ensure the safety of your employees’ physical health, their belongings and private information? How do you gauge their compliance for each?
- What allowances do you make for employees to work remotely should it be unsafe for them to travel to their office while on assignment? Do they have the requisite technology and resources to perform their job remotely?
- Do you provide sufficient health insurance and related resources? If they’re going to an unfamiliar destination with a different health care system than they’re used to, do they understand the ins and outs of their plans – and how to go about finding care should they or their family need it?
- How would your company go about repatriating international transferees should their destination country become unstable and/or unsafe?
These are just a sample of questions to ask. Answering them, and others, will require time and financial resources, but it will help ensure your employees’ and their family’s safety. You can’t afford to risk duty of care negligence.
Elevate the conversation around employee mental health
While the previous section addresses employees’ physical wellbeing, companies should account for their mental health as well. According to the World Health Organization, one in four individuals struggle with a mental health disorder at some point during their life. These issues often can be accentuated during the relocation process when employees are faced with leaving friends and family, moving to a city – or country – where little may be familiar.
Despite the prevalence of mental health problems and common triggering events, there remains a stigma around these issues, which can only compound their severity. Not only should organizations provide care and resources concerning mental health, they need to create a culture where acknowledging these needs is perfectly okay.
According to a 2019 study from Businessolver, an Iowa-based health benefits administrator, 68% of employees worry that reaching out for mental health benefits could negatively impact their job security. Encouraging employees to proactively use these resources can help address potential mental problems before they become a much bigger and more detrimental issue.
Routinely perform risk assessments for your company and employees
The events of 2020 have laid bare the unfortunate truth that crises which weren’t considered high risk or probable can quickly become a dangerous reality. That does not mean you have to account for every remotely possible situation, but it’s critical to undergo a routine risk assessment of potential issues that could adversely impact the company and/or your employees. Depending on the complexity of your organization and industry, find a frequency that allows your plan to stay current without making the process too burdensome. As many organizations invariably realized these last few months, having an outdated duty of care plan is no different than not having one at all.
Pull in additional resources and experts to help navigate new normal and unknowns
The challenge facing many HR and relocation professionals isn’t knowing what to do, it’s finding the time to do it. However, this distinction matters little to your employees should they feel neglected at any point. This is where having trusted partners to augment your team’s bandwidth and expertise can be immensely helpful. The right ones can assist with any of the points mentioned above, allowing you to focus on your core responsibilities.
They also should be able to review your duty of care policies – and relocation strategy as a whole – and align it with your organization’s overarching objectives. This could entail demonstrating a clear ROI for your relocation efforts, improving the productivity of your staff or decreasing employee turnover, among other goals often championed by leadership.
At its core, duty of care includes the basic resources and protections necessary to ensure a reasonable level of care for your employees. But, shouldn’t your company be setting its sights higher than the bare minimum? Particularly around relocation, there are countless instances where employees need additional care and services to feel protected and supported. By meeting these needs, not only can you improve their wellbeing and safety, you likely will see a boost in their productivity and commitment to your organization.
Do you need help re-evaluating your duty of care and relocation policy? Our team can help review your existing approach and identify any potential ways to better support your staff and differentiate your organizations from others in your industry!