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How to keep employees safe in high-risk areas

Employee safety is paramount in high-risk locations - here's how you can safeguard your global workforce

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Whether you want to reach new burgeoning markets, or take advantage of untapped import and export opportunities, there are many reasons you might want to expand your business into a high-risk country or region. But if you need employees to relocate to these areas, you must take their safety and security seriously.

Here are 5 ways you can ensure employee safety when working in high-risk overseas locations.

1. Risk assess your worker locations

Understanding the safety and security risks that might arise enables you to put protective measures in place. So it’s essential that you assess all your expansion locations for both personal and business risk.

Personal risks your staff may face include:

  • Terrorism
  • Natural disasters
  • Health risks
  • Violent crime, including kidnapping and robbery
  • Scams and theft, including travel scams and pickpocketing
  • Restricted access to essentials such as water or electricity.

Performing a risk assessment can also help you establish if the gains you get from setting up a business in this location really outweigh the risks. You may instead decide to expand into one of the safest countries for expats to minimise these hazards and the associated costs.

2. Create contingency plans

When you know which risks you are dealing with, you can create contingency plans. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recommends having a minimum of 3 contingency plans:

  • Hibernation plan — staff are required to stay at home or shelter in an office (remaining in the high-risk region)
  • Relocation plan — staff must move to a different location (usually within the high-risk region)
  • Emergency evacuation plan — staff are evacuated from the high-risk region altogether.

3. Brief your staff

Ensure your staff know what risks they face when relocating to a high-risk location. This helps them stay safe, as they will know what to do in an emergency situation. But it also minimises the chance of them feeling unhappy or isolated abroad.

Essential information your staff should know includes:

  • Embassy location(s) for your home country
  • When and how to deploy each type of contingency plan
  • Vaccination passports required and potential health risks of the area
  • How to recognise scams and avoid becoming a target for violent crime.

4. Enable regular open communication

Communication is key for staff safety. Ensure you have open lines of communication at all times, so employees can ask for help whenever they need it.

Regular check-ins are important for ensuring your staff are safe and well. Make sure they can talk to someone in their own timezone if they have non-emergency questions or concerns.

Set up an emergency communication procedure which can be used whenever the employee needs it. Ensure they have the technology to get in touch with you even if standard communication lines are down (for example, if internet access is restricted or phone lines are down). Satellite phones are a good backup option for emergencies. 

5. Ensure you have adequate insurance

Make sure your insurance covers all eventualities, including medical costs, repatriation, and legal fees. This protects your business while you protect your staff.

Using Employer of Record to keep staff safe overseas

An Employer of Record solution helps protect your staff and your business. It enables you to build a global workforce without having to set up an entity in a high-risk country. Employ of Record reduces the red tape associated with business expansion, so you can manage volatility in your global business quickly and easily. 

Staff will also receive on-the-ground support and regular check-ins from the Employer of Record and othe experienced local partners, ensuring they have both the physical and wellbeing support they need to get through a crisis.

You can also find and hire talented local staff who are familiar with local risks and customs, reducing the chances of targeted attacks and scams. See the pros and cons of hiring locally vs staff relocation.

Watch our video to see how Mauve can help you guarantee employee safety around the world.