How to Use a Business Trip Risk Assessment Template
Don’t let a business trip turn into a travel nightmare by skipping the prep. Understand your risks ahead of time with a business trip risk assessment template.
Protecting employees day-to-day is complicated enough, and it only gets harder when client meetings, conferences, offsite visits, or any other business travel opportunity takes them far away from their normal work site. Business trips often introduce threats to employee health and safety alongside increased business opportunities.
And travel managers aren’t the only ones concerned about safety away from home. Our recent State of Employee Safety Report found that safety is a top concern for business travelers, ranking second only to travel delays and disruptions, and less than half (40%) of travelers reported feeling extremely safe when traveling for work.
Investing in travel insurance and providing a robust travel policy are great ways to help fulfill your duty of care and keep your employees safe, but these are only the start of effective travel risk management. To keep your travelers safe, you need to know what to prepare for. This is where a travel risk assessment comes in. When you know what might put your travelers at risk, you can easily provide guidance and protection, so employees feel safer and business can run as usual, even from far away.
Using a travel risk assessment template is a great way to determine your travel risks at scale, even with a small security team, high travel demands, and multiple travel destinations. This article will walk you through how to perform a business trip risk assessment using a template (you can download one for free here), so you can focus your efforts less on documentation and more on protecting those employees on the road.
When You Do (and Don’t) Need a Travel Risk Assessment
Any time your employees are traveling, there is going to be some level of risk—be it a risk of travel delays or disruptions or more extreme risks like kidnapping, terrorism, or natural disasters. But depending on your travel demands and locations, your safety needs will vary.
If your company is based out of Cincinnati and you primarily have remote employees from across the Midwest traveling to in-office events twice a year, you’ll likely need a less-complicated risk assessment than a company sending their C-suite executives to London, Mexico City, Hong Kong, and other international cities every other month.
Pre-authorizing travel destinations
Some businesses create lists of travel destinations and categorize them ahead of time based on their overall risk level. Delia Midamba, Head of Physical Security at Cloudflare, explained the process her team uses to ensure they have properly assessed their risks for travel requests.
“We take a couple of different approaches. The first is an ‘allow’ list. Those are the countries where if you’re going to work there for less than 20 days, don’t ask us, you’re fine. Just go ahead and go. We’ve evaluated the security risk. We’ve evaluated the tax implications. And we’ve said if it’s less than 20 days, have fun. Then there are the countries that are not on the allow list. And so that at least has allowed us to whittle down how much research we have to do when an employee reaches out. But when they do reach out, we do have to check; what are the safety implications? What are the cybersecurity implications? And then come to a determination on whether the employee can go and what precautions we need to put in place for them to be able to.” —Delia Midamba, Head of Physical Security at Cloudflare
Performing assessments ahead of time for frequent travel destinations means you don’t have to scramble when a trip request lands on your desk. The more complicated your travel situation, the more beneficial a risk assessment is. From those assessments, it’s easy to create lists of travel destinations that are automatically approved from a safety standpoint—like Delia does at Cloudflare—that you can direct employees to when they are looking into travel.
Why Use a Risk Assessment Template
For a risk assessment to be the most useful to your business, you need a clear understanding of a location’s possible threats, the likelihood of those threats impacting your travelers, and an estimation of how the risk would impact your business. It’s also helpful to be able to compare locations and to compare risk scores to previous assessments—to see if locations are growing more or less dangerous over time.
Going beyond a risk matrix
A risk matrix (shown below) is a helpful tool for taking a high-level view of risk, but it doesn’t always allow for the level of granularity that travel risk assessments require. When looking at safety in complicated situations like travel, especially when assessing risk at scale for a larger organization, it’s helpful to have a tool that can accommodate all the information you’ll need to document.
A more robust template like this one you can download for free, is a more streamlined way to ensure you know exactly what to prepare your organization for and inform your employees about when they are traveling.
How to Perform a Travel Risk Assessment
Whether you’re using a template or documenting it some other way, there are six steps to the travel risk assessment process. Here’s what it looks like.
1. Determine your travel destinations
To know what risks your travel plans might hold, you need to know where you’re going. Are your employees primarily traveling between facilities in the contiguous United States? Do you have frequent international travel to other business partners? Create a list of places where your team might travel.
If you have remote/nomadic workers or employees who are planning to work from locations other than their homes for extended periods, you may consider adding these locations to your risk assessments. Your duty of care obligations extend to protecting these employees as well, and there may be higher risks than the employees are aware of.
2. Research potential risks in those locations
Figuring out what risks your employees might face can seem intimidating, but there are plenty of resources available to get you started. The U.S. State Department publishes travel advisories with major threats and any travel warnings or larger travel restrictions in different countries. You can also look through public databases of crime rates, civil unrest, and public health emergencies. If you have a log of past incidents, you can use those as examples as well.
The specific risks you find will vary depending not only on where your employees are traveling, but also on any increased risk factors those employees will have themselves. There may be some locations where high-level executives face an increased risk of kidnapping, and there are areas where LGBTQ+ employees will be at a higher risk for harassment and detention. Here are a few examples of threats to consider in your travel destinations:
- Public health risks/infections disease
- Civil unrest/demonstrations
- Travel disruptions
- Infrastructure failures
- Medical emergency
If you have access to a threat intelligence system, especially one with a threat history feature that shows past events in each area, this process is going to be a bit more accurate, and quite a bit easier. Whether you’re pulling up threat history through your intelligence system or reviewing public advisories and incident logs, your travel risk management will benefit from this knowledge.
3. Determine the likelihood of those risks
To adequately prioritize and prepare for these risks, you need to know how likely they are to happen. When estimating the potential likelihood of these risks in any given location, you may consider whether your company has faced the threat before, if your employees are part of a frequently targeted group, if the location is in a time of destabilization, and if there are any trend lines in these threats that might indicate a rise in rate of incidence.
It can also be helpful to consider if there are any employees with additional factors that might put them at high risk. Some risk factors might be employees with disabilities or medical conditions, women, LGBTQ+ employees, and religious or ethnic minorities.
4. Estimate the impact of those risks
Next, you’ll determine what the impact of those risks might be if they were to occur. An easy way to break this down into something more actionable is to assess the impact of a given risk to these three facets:
- People—Will this harm your employees?
- Assets—Is company-owned technology or IP in harm’s way?
- Business continuity—How much will this disrupt your business operations?
You can rank impacts within these three categories to create a numerical value of impact. This will help you down the road if you are using an equation to calculate exposure, and it also gives you a high-level way to compare different risks and locations.
5. Calculate your exposure level
The likelihood and impact of a given risk factor into your overall risk exposure score. You can use your exposure level to gain a holistic understanding of any particularly significant hazards. You can also use your exposure level to determine if your mitigation efforts are effective. For example, if your exposure level for infectious disease is particularly high and you don’t have any sort of mitigation or control measures, such as vaccination requirements, you now have a place to start for improving travel safety.
6. Reassess at regular intervals
Like any other kind of risk, travel risks don’t stay the same over time. There are lots of different factors that can change your destination’s risk rating, so creating a regular cadence for reviewing and revising your travel risk assessment is the best way to keep up with any real-time changes.
Protecting Your Traveling Employees at Scale
Travel safety, in a world with an increasingly complicated threat landscape, is not something you want to leave up to chance. Performing a pre-travel risk assessment is one of the best ways to ensure that you can protect the health and safety of your team, no matter where they are in the world. Download this free template to get started. And if you’re looking for an integrated system for protecting your travelers, click here to learn more about how AlertMedia’s Travel Risk Management is the best tool to understanding your travel threats and staying in touch with your employees on the road, all in one streamlined system.