The performance of staff, and particularly their integrity and professionalism, can determine whether a company stands or falls
As a company is only as strong and competitive as its employees, it stands to reason that businesses must look after their staff. This is not only because it is the right thing to do as an employer, but because its brand and reputation rests on them, their actions and the way they conduct business relationships.
If staff feel as though they are looked after, they will work better and be better advocates for their company’s brand. If not, they are more likely to cut corners, take risks and start looking for another job. Human risk in its broadest sense covers both the wellbeing of staff and the wellbeing of the company.
As such, there is a fantastic opportunity for risk managers to partner up with their human resources (HR) colleagues.
HR and risk managers need to discuss a multitude of risks. These range from the health and safety of staff, including travellers and international employees, to attracting and retaining talent (where employee benefits schemes play an active role) and ethics, culture and behaviour.
Across these risks, D&O obligations now act as a driver to improving responsibility at board level, but employees are also growing increasingly aware of their obligations. They too have a duty – a duty of loyalty. This relates to their responsibility to behave and work with ethical integrity.
This joint responsibility – employers for employees, and employees for their employers – is why developing the correct organisational culture is perhaps the single most important part of managing human risk.
Indeed, culture plays a pivotal role here. But on a multinational level, compliance to core company ethics and D&O programmes is more and more difficult to manage: several jurisdictions now require the issuance of a local policy and/or a local premium allocation.
In this environment, insurance is an efficient part of the risk mitigation strategy, but it needs to be the right insurance. Companies must ensure they have the policy that is compliant across the world and in every market they operate in, or may operate in soon.
They also need the kind of global footprint that a multinational insurer can provide. These insurers have local offices across the world, with the capabilities to write policies in-country and draw on reserves of in-depth local knowledge.
But a major problem for many firms is that they have grown faster than the infrastructure they have in place to provide duty of care.
“It is this pace of growth that poses the biggest risk to businesses as they sometimes fail to develop the security support functions that may legally be required of them, and which would ensure workforce safety and duty of care compliance,” says Geoffrey Deane, business security director at Deloitte.
Andrew Robb, global mobility, talent and rewards partner at Deloitte, argues that, in addition to an increase in the volume of assignments requiring staff to travel overseas, these assignments have also grown in diversity and range from commutes, permanent transfers, short-term business travel, project work, developmental assignments and rotators.
“This means more is being demanded from the global mobility professional and the programme support model, which was historically established to support traditional long and short-term assignments,” he says.
“Organisations that are considered best-in-class in this space (only 8% of organisations, according to a recent Deloitte survey) are therefore increasingly reviewing their global mobility strategy and redesigning the programme elements, including policies, processes, technology, governance, vendors and people.
“This is done to ensure each component supports the overall business and talent objectives in an ever-more complex regulatory world.”
Deane points out that the flow of information to and from an organisation’s head office is vital when managing a large pool of mobile staff.
“Lack of up-to-date knowledge about employee locations, contact details and staff movements, when combined with an inability to adequately risk assess locations, develop/implement appropriate contingency plans and then advise staff, is unacceptable.”
These risks can be mitigated by reviewing organisational structures to ensure any legal exposure is reduced. “One solution could be the establishment of separate legal entities,” says Deane.
“A strategic-level approach can be further enhanced by creating appropriate roles/departments that are responsible for monitoring employees’ locations, creating adequate emergency processes and collating all relevant intelligence. This can then be used to advise the business and employees on threats.
“Only then can a global entity ensure that their duty of care is appropriately discharged.”