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Increase your Expatriates’ Safety through Security Awareness Trainings and Housing Audits

During the last years, the expatriates’ safety and security have become a major concern of international mobility not only in high risk locations of developing countries but all over the world. On the top of the list of safety measures taken by the employers are security awareness trainings provided to expatriates and their families. Trainings are often accompanied by safety audits which can include the accommodation, the area, the work place and the transportation.

A few years ago, multinational companies started setting up increased emergency plans and accompanying measures to prepare rapatriations of a large number of expatriates and their families from high risk countries, such as Nigeria, Yemen and Libya. Today Mali and Algeria are among those countries which keep safety officers and international mobility managers awake at night.

The Employer’s Duty of Care

Companies are entirely responsible for the safety of their travelling staff, expatriates and personnel abroad, making sure that their personnel is prepared to face the risks to their personal safety abroad. This duty of care includes all factors of potential risks.

This subject is one of the top issues of HR Management not only due to a higher level of risks but also because of an increasing number of expatriations to developing countries. Most problematic can be countries which are considered « safe », because due the underestimation of the risks, expatriates’ safety issues are often neglected.  

How to ensure the Expatriates’ Safety and Security

Safety and security planning for expatriates become more and more important and should include the following items among others:

  • Risks mapping and assessment ;
  • Analysis of existing protection measures ;
  • Vulnerability audits ;
  • Conduction of route surveys and development of street awareness ;
  • Residential audits and setting up of security measures such as video surveillance ;
  • Vehicle protection measures
  • Attack and surveillance recognition ;
  • Emergency  planning ;
  • Safety and security awareness trainings for expatriates.

The Importance of the Expatriates’ Safety Awareness

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” - Miguel de Cervantes

Safety awareness is critical no matter where in the world the transferree will be living. Expatriates need to always be aware of their surroundings --and to avoid drawing attention to the fact they are not natives of the culture. It is important to understand the people’s behaviours, values and habits of the destination country. Not only will this make the expatriate’s time abroad more enjoyable and successful, it will in most cases avoid creating dangerous situations unnecessarily.

As part of their duty of care, organizations must implement best practices, which include training and preparing expatriates and their families for overseas assignments.

Safety awareness trainings ideally include all aspects of the professional and personal environment such as the office, transportation, the residential area, children’s schooling, housing as well as the « safe » selection of adequate house keeping and security personal, car drivers, body guards and other service providers.

Forearmed with knowledge, trained expatriates have security schemes in their mind to face dangerous situations to which they may be confronted. While some themes remain identical, training should be tailored to the specific destination. The overreaching threats are different from location to location. As an example, the main threat in many African countries is street crime, while in Japan the major issues are earthquakes and in China it is important to be prepared to data theft.

(MMC, 28 of February 2013)

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