Following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris in November, hundreds of global companies no doubt took time to review and update their crisis management plans.
That's a step in the right direction, but no crisis plan works if employees can't be reached or, even worse, companies don't know which of their employees may be in harm's way.
That is especially true of companies with employees located around the globe on long or short-term assignments. A 2014 survey by PwC indicated that almost one-third of the 193 organizations it surveyed weren't even sure how many of their employees worked internationally each year. What's more, barely one-third of the organizations said they had access to the right data to manage globally mobile employees.
Tracking employees during crisis
Such inefficiencies in a world of heightened risk are not good. Being able to quickly locate expat employees in the aftermath of a crisis can be especially challenging. After all, these are precisely the employees who are often expected to travel regionally for days or even weeks at a time to get their jobs done – and may or may not always notify the home office as to their whereabouts. Swamped telecommunication networks in the aftermath of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and atypical incidents worldwide only add to the chaos.
Locating all employees during a crisis is no small task even for the best of companies. The global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, after the Paris attacks implored its 4,000 employees to update their contact information and list multiple phone numbers where they could be reached, aWall Street Journal article noted. The reason: the firm had about 300 employees in the Paris area at the time of the attacks and only knew that one of them was safe after having checked the employees' Facebook page, the article said.
Despite the increased risks in today's world, the $150 billion talent mobility industry, as the PwC survey showed, is still dominated by companies using highly manual processes to relocate and then track their global workforces.
Yet more companies are automating talent mobility every day by shifting to cloud-based talent mobility systems. The technology enables instant updates to employee information so that, in case employees move or change contact information, the home office has that information. It also gives employers 24/7 access to their employee contact information, as well as multiple ways to quickly get notifications, updates and needed information to far-flung employees.
In response to the attacks in Paris, MOVE Guides was able to instantly identify which of our clients had workers located in Paris. Within hours, we secured temporary housing for any employees who may have needed it, and then quickly informed clients that housing was available.
Facebook's Safety Check feature, rolled out last year, is another example of how cloud technology is being leveraged to make the world a safer and more informed place. Safety Check enables users to quickly report that they are safe should a crisis strike.
More mobile workers
The need for companies to update and upgrade their talent mobility systems will only grow. Almost 90 per cent of companies plan to increase the number of employees they relocate for work this year and next, the PwC survey also showed. Yet, according to Deloitte, just 8 per cent of companies say their global mobility programme is world-class, often driven by high costs and inefficient administration.
After each crisis, it is imperative that companies review and update crisis response plans. However, it's even better if they have databases and systems that are continually updated with relevant employee information, too.
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