Justin Donald Leader

Benefits Professional
  • Failure to Educate.

    Sep 25, 2015

by Justin Leader


Recently, I had the pleasure of taking the Director of Global Security for a large multinational corporation to lunch.  It is not every day that I have the opportunity to “pick the brain” of a 25 year veteran in Risk Mitigation, Travel Security, Emergency, Disaster and Crisis Management. I, for one, understand just how busy these professionals are in their field.  I know this because this same gentleman has been my client for 4 years.  In that time, it has been almost impossible to pull him away from what I can only describe as his passion; his desire to protect the people of his company.  During this hour, we discussed many topics surrounding duty of care, travel safety, risk management and building the bridge between Health & Welfare, Mobility, Legal, Security and Risk Management departments.  I have to admit that there is one issue that seems to be glaring in every conversation I have; the education of each department pertaining to employee coverages and protocol.  Soon after we left the meeting I had the words of Paul Newman from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” echoing in my head; “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”, or in this case, educate.

Failure to educate is and has been a serious issue for many multinational organizations; however, I am not sure many realize they are in a position of liability.  Most of the articles I read on this topic speak primarily to the relationship between employer and employee and more recently it has become more prevalent with Nonprofits, NGO’s, Universities and more.  Simply put, the failure to inform can make the sponsor of a traveler liable for any harm that befalls the individual.  That being said, how good of a job are we as Risk Management and Benefit professionals doing in educating not only the end user, but also each other?  Lack of education amongst departments and colleagues creates a trickledown effect from the C-suite to HR Managers, to employees and even spouse and dependent co-travelers.  This is a major yet often unnoticed cause for alarm in any organization.

Insurance policy and assistance program placement are one piece of the puzzle; however, an effective and ongoing communication strategy at implementation is of the utmost importance. If you get that factor wrong, the house of cards can fall at any time and given a long enough timeline, they are guaranteed to fall.  Ideally, there should be a multitude of resources readily available to your organization by the insurer, assistance provider and broker/consultant alike.  If these aspects are not discussed as the program is built or communication is not a part of an ongoing discussion, I consider that program failure.

I suggest a simple exercise to see how effective your program is to the end user i.e., the employee, student, spouse, etc.  To determine effectiveness, take a sample of the population and randomly call them.  This sample should start with someone in your department, and then branch out across the organization.  More than likely you already know your population of travelers.

Ask the following questions:

  • Have you read our corporate travel policy? (If you do not have one, you should)

  • In case of emergency, do you know what number to call for assistance?

  • Have you taken a travel training education module? (This should be mandatory)

  • Do you know where to access pre-travel education before you depart on a trip?

These four questions should open your eyes to your program effectiveness and any inefficiency that may exist.  This is just a starting point; keep in mind if education is not provided up front, there is a substantial risk of litigation, incurring large financial costs and/or tarnishing the organization’s reputation.  Even more significant than all of these threats is that lack of education can and often will lead to serious harm, if not death, of an ignorant traveler.