What's new in well-being and duty of care in 2023?

May 16 | 2023

Carrie Hartmann from 3Sixty looks at the importance of duty of care in the relocations industry. ​

Carrie Hartman

Duty of care in the relocation industry has rapidly evolved around watershed moments in global history, from major terrorism incidents to devastating natural disasters. The last few years have packed a fair few of these in, chiefly COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine. 

The instability these have directly and indirectly caused to supply chains, labour shortages, energy prices, and general mindset has been enormous. Travel buyers have had to cope with all this while balancing economic constraints and trying to keep employees safe while on the road. And, as the focus on employees' physical and mental wellbeing has grown, so too has the scope of who is responsible for duty of care. More internal stakeholders are responsible than ever, including risk managers, HR, and the C-Suite. Every part of the supply chain, from transport, logistics, and accommodation, now has to be scrutinised. 

A survey by AMEX carried out at the end of 2022 found that 71% of workers would leave their role if their employer didn't prioritise their wellbeing during trips. At the same time, 85% of people believe the world has become more dangerous over the past twelve months, according to a survey by International SOS. It's no wonder that duty of care consistently remains one of the most challenging tasks for buyers. 

That's why the relocation industry needs to keep up to date with the latest trends in employee wellbeing and duty of care. Only then can professionals in this space adequately equip themselves with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions, reduce stress and ensure employees are supported at this uncertain time. Companies must have a robust duty of care policy that aligns with their objectives and values. Equally importantly, employees must be familiar with these strategies and the safeguards implemented to ensure their safety.

The first port of call in developing these policies should be ISO 31030. Although this was only created 18 months ago, it feels relatively new as we collectively get up to speed with its framework. The Standard provides a structured approach for developing, implementing, and evaluating travel risk management policies covering various situations.

When sourcing transport and accommodation, vetting has always been imperative. Customers have depended on approved channels to book and manage their relocation journey. The vetting process has become more visible to consumers in the last couple of years. A quick look at any booking platform for relocation accommodation will show how operators ensure their quality control. It's also become a faster process. At 3Sixty, we use weekly data from Dun & Bradstreet to identify and address red flags in our supply chain, from criminal proceedings to D&I, and safety. One side-effect of COVID-19 was the sheer number of businesses, particularly in hospitality, that became financially unviable. Vetting the financial health of suppliers is one trend that is here to stay.

Technology has been innovative in other ways, ensuring that global risks are flagged in real-time and preventing the spread of misinformation. Using machine learning models, new tech platforms are helping to identify location risks for floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and storms. One example is Augurisk. Given the total cost of climate-related and weather disasters in 2021 alone was $148 billion, with a further 42 billion-dollar disasters in 2022, this is a massive part of ensuring proper duty of care.

Apps for real-time safety data are also proving invaluable to travel buyers and employees to contextualise their surroundings. Data can get hyper-local to a specific location and drill down on particular risks. A great example of how this works in practice is GeoSure. This tool pulls together data from official sources such as the UN, WHO, and FBI and other AI analyses of media headline sentiment. It then scores out of 100 on several categories, such as women's safety, health, and medical and political freedoms. These scores can be accessed on the go on a mobile phone or smartwatch. Solutions such as GeoSure are making it easier for individuals to invest in their own duty of care. 

Lastly, one exciting area of development in wellbeing is in-room technology that is being deployed in accommodation. Enhanced cleaning became the norm during the pandemic, but savvier startups like Delos are implementing air quality monitoring, sleep solutions, and ‘rejuvenating environments’ in partnership with hotels and real estate companies. The aim of these innovations is to minimise the impact of travel on the individual. 

The rapid changes in our world have been the catalyst for approaches to duty of care, particularly in technology, to also change. I predict this will show no signs of slowing in the years to come.

Photo: Carrie Hartman is chief revenue office at 3Sixty, an accommodation booking and management platform for the relocation and extended stay industries.