Over the last decade, the Malaysian economy has grown manifold and has become more cosmopolitan than ever before. Multinational companies have set up operations here while Malaysian companies have taken their business abroad and are sending staff overseas for short and long term business travel. To support this aspiration, the Malaysian young and dynamic workforce is essential. They have become main players of the country’s growth and will be expecting more tangible benefits such as better health and protection while they are away for business assignment.
Malaysians are traveling more in recent years thanks to affordable air travel and booming low cost carriers in Asia. According to Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad Annual Report 2011, MAHB recorded a passenger growth of 10.7 percent in FY2011, with a total of 64 million passengers passing through MAHB’s 39 airports in Malaysia. International passenger-movements registered strong growth at 10.3 percent.
With assignments on the rise, the key question here is how do companies protect their employees against health risks while traveling?
Being prepared is a large part of Duty of Care and can mitigate and even prevent these risks from occurring. Pre-trip or pre-assignment preparation, personal safety training, health screening, vaccination, and comprehensive online pre-trip medical and security advisories can help mitigate risks.
When employees are abroad, they need to know that help is available. Companies must maintain real-time contact with their employees while they are on the move. They should be alerted to critical events as they happen and have the ability to communicate with travelers during a crisis.
The attractiveness of the global marketplace will continue to grow in the years ahead but the risks imposed by doing business in developing markets will not go away. For corporations who choose to pursue business in this marketplace, and for the occupational health and safety professionals they employ, the challenge will be to effectively anticipate and manage risks so that they can protect their most valuable asset – their employees – in a manner wholly consistent with their obligations.
For some companies, enhancing and improving their occupational health programs is needed to tackle the challenge of ongoing evolution of country regulation and employee’s expectations.
For the others, it is time to consider investing in employee health management as soon as possible, in order to stay in the global competition as efficient, profitable and responsible organizations.
Whatever the motivating Duty of Care factors may be, investing in the Malaysian workforce goes beyond the financial aspects. The fruits of labor will then be enjoyed by both the employer and the employee.