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The (non)business case for caring for employees

Kevin Craig, Canadian managing director of Concur, a global travel and expense company.

Canadian managing director of Concur, a global travel and expense company.

Business travel is expected to increase over the next several years, and at a time of prominent geopolitical uncertainty, it's imperative that companies take the extra step to ensure the safety of their employees.

This notion became all too real in January, when companies were forced to scramble to determine the safety and state of their workforce travelling abroad following the spur-of-the-moment immigration plan implemented by the Trump administration. There are ongoing examples too – from natural disaster, to illness outbreaks to tragic terrorist attacks – and the last position a company wants to be in when disaster strikes is directionless and without a plan.

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Having a surefire strategy that ensures the safety of employees in the face of crisis will not only help companies be compliant in their duty of care responsibilities, it will also have huge impact on overall employee satisfaction -- allowing companies to retain talent and promote a strong work culture.

Beyond the business case, there must be human-driven desire to care for employees, in and out of the office.

Concur, a global leader in travel and expense management, has built the business around ensuring that companies can protect the most important asset they have – their employees. Business leaders need to demonstrate that they have a meaningful plan in place that shows employees they can rely on their leaders, and not only for the purpose of meeting the bottom line, but more importantly, because they care.

Here are three ways to help demonstrate care to employees:

Meet your obligations

The most important way in which businesses should be building their duty-of-care strategies is through corporate travel planning. In 2016, Concur issued more than 10-million alerts and messages that warned business travelers of potential risks in the locations where they were working.

Employees want to feel safe when they're away from home. Knowing that their employer is looking out for them and has a plan in place to cover their travel health and security alleviates concerns for both the employee and their managers back home. Beyond corporate obligations, it's just the right thing to do.

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Make your workplace meaningful

Workplace culture has a big impact on how connected an employee feels to their team and the organization as a whole. Part of developing work culture is demonstrating that you care about what your employees care about.

In Canada, we've implemented a flexible corporate-social-responsibility plan that allows employees to choose what charities they want to support, whether it's something local, personally meaningful or otherwise. We've seen a tremendous response and have been able to help our communities more because employees feel connected to the causes.

Give your employees balance

One of the biggest challenges organizations have is balancing workload with home life. Of course, businesses want to be profitable and have hard-working employees, but that cannot come at the expense of employee well-being. Putting policies in place that help them manage their work with the realities of life – including flex-hours, adequate vacation, sick time, and the like – help employees feel better about striking balance at work and at home.

One thing Concur folks have responded well to is our business leisure policy. We understand that employees may want to extend business trips for leisure, so we make it easy for them to do so by allowing flexible return and departure flight options. These little things can make a big difference.

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Implementing such policies will develop a culture that increases employee motivation, demonstrates the company is flexible enough to listen to their day-to-day interests and, most importantly, shows management truly care for their emotional and physical well-being of its workforce. This notion ties together both the human and business motivation of care.

Ultimately, a strong duty-of-care-policy, in addition to other employee care initiatives, is a smart investment—protecting your employees in short-term scenarios while also preserving resources in the long-term.

Executives and human-resources experts share their views in the ongoing Leadership Lab series. Find more stories here and follow us @Globe_Careers.

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