This piece was written by Matthew Judge, Group MD of Anvil Group, providing an Expert Perspective to our research paper Managing Risk in the New Normal. Matthew joins the RES Forum on 24th June to explore global mobility risk in more detail.
RES Live! 24th June 2021. Define – Identify – Decide. Dealing with Risk in Global Mobility.
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Old wine in the new bottle
Whilst the underlying fundamentals of risk management have not really changed in years, a number of the frameworks required to enable organizations to mitigate risk in an ever-changing world most certainly have. The results of this survey highlight certain themes that are not unusual to find in many organizations today. As the survey highlights, many organizations are still responding reactively rather than adapting to the proactive approach required by the “new normal”. It’s also clear that many organizational departments still appear to be operating in silos, either not participating in wider stakeholder committees set up to deal with risk management issues, or in some cases, these interdepartmental committees don’t exist at all.
So here comes the “old wine in the new bottle”.
It’s called “organizational resilience”.
Organizational resilience is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to events – both sudden shocks and gradual change. More resilient organizations can anticipate and respond effectively to threats and opportunities arising from changes in their internal and external context. They’re adaptable, competitive, agile and robust. Enhancing resilience should be a strategic organizational goal and is the outcome of good business practice and effectively managing risks.
This methodology assists organizations in taking a far more proactive approach to risk management. By breaking down the departmental silos the global mobility (GM) function can bring together relevant stakeholders - Travel, Insurance, Health & Safety, Legal, HR and Security – all of whom have a responsibility for the mobile workforce. Bringing these stakeholders together and sharing awareness of existing processes and tools allows GMs to understand how they can be leveraged to solve existing problems and prepare more effectively for new issues that may arise.
It’s clear though that many organizations are still very much relying on a reactive “insurance” based approach to risk, which is designed to aid when an issue has already occurred, rather than taking steps to mitigate in advance. This is demonstrated by the low scores in the Emergency Preparation and Response section of the survey.
The low scores on Digital Automation suggest that many organizations do not have, or are not aware of, the risk management and process automation tools available to them. These tools can not only ensure that a consistent approach is followed but can also enable risk programs to be more scalable and efficient, resulting in fewer mistakes or gaps in data. This, in turn, results in more effective triggering of alerts when a potential problem or issue arises.
Another fundamental area highlighted by the survey as needing focus is the physical and mental wellbeing of the mobile workforce. Good physical and psychological resilience is a key foundation supporting the success of any assignment or business trip. Omissions in this area are often the reason that many global assignments fail. Aside from the impact on the individuals, unforeseen medical expenses or lost opportunities arising from not providing employees with the support and confidence they require to be successful in location can cost organizations dearly.
Duty of Care, Health & Safety and Risk Management are areas of governance that are both a legal requirement and a moral one. Although the ultimate accountability for them may lay with other departments, the responsibility for their application runs company wide and GMs need to ensure that they are playing a key role in driving conversations and interdepartmental collaboration.
Far from being a burden or an overhead, effective risk management and the drive towards true operational resilience should be seen as a competitive advantage and a positive business enabler, allowing organizations to leverage economic opportunity and to grow and prosper in the new normal, whatever that may be.
About Matthew Judge
Matthew has been with Anvil for over 15 years. Initially responsible for spearheading travel and operational risk technology products, he then established Anvil’s in-house medical team to support the company’s 24/7 international assistance and healthcare services proposition. Primarily responsible for overall management of the global business, he continues to be involved with business development, maintaining direct relationships with Anvil’s clients to understand the challenges they face and help develop solutions to their current and future problems. He is a regular speaker and written contributor on the subject of travel risk management and operational resilience.