Duty of Care
Creating a Culture of Care: How to Incorporate Duty of Care into Your Company Culture
In the last few years as the Great Resignation ushered in a transfer of power from employer to employee, employee wellness — overall employee physical and mental well-being — has taken center stage.
Leading companies are now internalizing a culture of care that encompasses many facets of work at the office but also extends beyond the office walls. Progressive leaders are embedding employee wellness into many employee benefits, including revamped corporate travel and expense policies.
With this organizational shift top of mind, Jeanne Dion, Vice President of the Value Experience Group at SAP Concur, spoke with Oren Geshuri of Deloitte about how companies are embracing and evolving their mindset about duty of care.
Keeping Employees Safe in a Complex World
The phrase “duty of care” describes an organization’s legal obligation to protect their employees from harm. Laws governing this vary across the globe, but the common denominator is that duty of care is a basic company responsibility — and it’s the right thing to do. “It’s the duty of the organization to ensure the safety and we’ll add in well-being of that traveler, of the travelers that they are sending out in the world on behalf of company business,” Geshuri explains.
For employees traveling the world on company business, what does “being kept safe away from the office” look like in a complex world? Traveler safety and well-being used to involve dealing with employee sickness on the road and protecting employees from dangerous situations.
But with the awareness of the importance of mental health and the rise of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), viewing employee safety through a modern lens illuminates broader issues. Well-being now includes mental wellness. Safety now includes issues of identity and consideration of religion, gender, sexual orientation, and color. “I think, systemically, we need to reframe that conversation and say to really be an inclusive travel program, an inclusive environment, we need to open up to all these marginalized [groups],” Geshuri says.
New Tools and More Information
Technology has given employers new tools to understand and mitigate travel risks and share that information with employees to build true trust in travel. This is particularly important for groups at high risk like women and the LGBTQ+ community. “We have a lot of tools at our disposal,” Geshuri notes. “There are great apps out there, one of them being GeoSure, that actually rate neighborhoods for various safety factors: female safety, LGBTQ+ safety, robbery safety, political activity safety.” Organizations like Mobility International provide information on how various countries handle accessibility and how that might impact a disabled traveler.
Savvy and concerned employers work hard to provide a brief assessment and understanding of risk factors for each employee trip. They prepare their travelers to think in advance about their destination and whether they will encounter safety concerns during their trip, both domestic and abroad.
Relaxing Travel Policies
In addition to providing much more empowering information, employee-focused companies are also adjusting their travel policies away from a laser focus on cost control measures toward a balance between managing cost and ensuring that employees feel both safe and comfortable while on the road.
As Geshuri points out, there are plenty of studies that show an investment in travel improves an organization’s overall bottom line. “There is a definite benefit to making a trade. You might be spending a couple of dollars more, but the overall impact to your employee is going to be immeasurable.”
These changes — flight choices that include minimal layovers, paid use of the hotel gym, or TSA PreCheck — increase an employee’s physical and mental well-being while traveling and help increase employee appreciation and retention.
Acknowledging Generational Differences
Multiple generations comprise the workforce today, but most travel managers are older — baby boomers and Gen X. It follows, then, that “old school policies are de facto non-inclusive” as Geshuri points out. Perceptive companies watching the rise of younger generations in the workforce, and the changing social norms that define Gen Z and Alphas, are making the time to re-write their entire travel policy from the ground up. They’re striving to create more inclusive and egalitarian policies by soliciting the internal voice of all their travelers — not just the power travelers — to be sure all generations are included in the feedback.
Progressive companies are making their programs more inclusive to future-proof their organization. Otherwise, as Geshuri explains, they risk younger generations “joining [the] organization, getting a feel for how rigid that organization is, and just noping it,” when savvy interviewees or employees ask about a specific policy and decide it’s a non-starter.
Value Trumps Cost
Smart companies are realizing that adjusting their policies and being willing to spend a few more dollars on T&E can have an immeasurable positive impact on employee satisfaction and wellness.
Organizations with a modern, inclusive travel policy signal that they care about all employees. This attitude builds employee trust and loyalty, improves employee experience, increases retention, and bolsters business continuity. The right travel policy can be a strategic tool in today’s ultracompetitive environment. Gehsuri notes, “It really is creating a program that sets the stage for all of your folks, all of your travelers, to be safe, to be secure in their own self, and to grow the company as a true leader in advancing the agenda of all your employees.”