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Are Agencies Leaving Traveling Employees Out in the Cold?


From explosions in Tianjin to WMATA transit delays, business travelers face a host of potential threats and challenges while on the road. As federal agencies look to ensure workforce safety, it is crucial that employees be able to access and depend on a strong support system anytime, any place.

However, according to Government Business Council’s recent survey of 431 federal employees, many government agencies in the U.S. have yet to establish unified, comprehensive duty of care obligations to protect traveling employees. According to the study, 82% of respondents have encountered disruptions or issues while traveling or working remotely, and almost half are regularly concerned about personal safety when doing so. And although respondents assert that their organizations are generally proactive when it comes to travel risk management, nearly 4 in 10 still feel inadequately supported during travel disruptions:

The results indicate a substantial disconnect between intentions and execution with regards to federal traveler support. While many respondents report being provided with logistical and compliance-related resources, few agencies currently equip travelers with information about safety risks, real-time weather and catastrophe alerts, local emergency information, or other resources designed to enhance safety.

In addition, agencies still rely mainly on slower, less efficient methods of verifying employee safety, such as one-to-one communication between supervisors and employees, organization-wide emails, and official agency emergency notification systems. Only 6% of respondents report that their agency employs mobile apps or GPS location services, both of which would grant travelers greater control over their own safety. As a result, federal managers may not be receiving timely emergency information – just 40% estimate being able to receive confirmation of their employees’ safety within an hour:

In short, with so much of the federal workforce engaging in some form of business travel or remote work, agencies should consider expanding their concept of duty of care beyond simply meeting compliance standards – providing better safety guidance and resources would go a long way toward mitigating risks and protecting employees from any challenges they might face.

Methodology: GBC deployed a survey to a sample of Government Executive, Nextgov, and Defense One print and online subscribers in September 2015. The pool of 431 respondents included employees at the GS/GM 11-15 grade levels and members of the Senior Executive Service. Respondents included representatives from more than 30 federal and defense agencies. Click here to see the full report.


This post is written by Government Business Council; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Government Executive Media Group's editorial staff. For more information, see our advertising guidelines.