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Essay on Managing Staff in High-Risk Countries

Date:  2021-05-20 01:47:45
7 pages  (1788 words)
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Many companies have chosen to invest in foreign markets so as to increase their competitive advantage and expand their operations overseas. Usually, areas that offer attractive investment opportunities and high development potential are high-risk countries. One such country is Nigeria which has tremendous potential for growth. However, the country is being plagued by increasing violence, crimes, and terrorism. Such incidences reaffirm the need for organizations to know how to formulate proper strategies to manage their staff in high-risk areas. Organizations should have relevant and timely information, accurate assessment of the foreign working environment, and clear lines of communication so as to participate in international business while ensuring the safety of their staff.

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Risk Assessment

One of the countries that have attractive investment opportunities is Nigeria. According to Leke et al. (2014, p. 1), Nigeria is in a position to become an economic powerhouse in the coming decades. Further, the country is well positioned to take advantage of global business trends. It is in a strategic location with an ocean port, a growing consumer class and a young and growing population. However, despite being a frontier in economic growth in Africa, Nigeria is one of the most dangerous and difficult operating environments in the world (Adora, 2010, p. 14). Recently, seven mining workers, five of which were foreigners, were kidnapped in the country in a deadly attack on the outskirts of the city (The Sydney Morning Herald, 2016). Also, in another incidence, fifteen Nigerian oil workers were kidnapped near the southern oil capital, Port Harcourt. Eventually, through combined efforts of security agencies and state government support, the men were successfully released (Uguru, 2016). Such incidences pose a great challenge to foreign employees and businesses at large.

The major risks to businesses in Nigeria is as a result of the deteriorating internal security which is characterized by frequent criminal activities and terrorist attacks. The increased insecurity levels have resulted in the government carrying out various efforts to abate the incidences (Achumba et al., 2013, p. 1). However, high levels of insecurity remain a threat in the country. In fact, the country has constantly ranked low in the Global Peace Index (GPI, 2016). This calls for the need to understand the causes of insecurity before sending staff in the country.

It is necessary for organizations to know the different causes of insecurity because each may need its own remedy. Also, it provides a holistic view of the situation so as to formulate proper solutions in case of an attack or other violent activities (Andrew and Kennedy, 2003, p. 2). The sources of insecurity in Nigeria have been grouped into internal and external factors. Internal security is the one that poses a greater challenge in the country. Some of the internal factors that cause insecurity include ethnoreligious conflicts, weak security system, unemployment, and terrorism. Among these issues, terrorism is the most fundamental source of insecurity.

Terrorism in Nigeria is an Islamic uprising with a political connotation by an anonymous group grounded in the Northern part of the country. The current challenges of terrorism and related activities has threatened the nation on all fronts. The insecurity has affected many businesses that operate in the region (Achumba et al., 2013, p. 5). There have been increasing cases of kidnappings which calls for training employees to prevent them from being kidnapped. Organizations should seek assistance from international human resources consulting agencies which can provide them with location evaluation reports that would assist in determining the levels of risk and hence assist them in determining appropriate systems that would protect employees during international assignments.

Strategy to Ensure Foreign Employees Safety

An organization may not be able to anticipate every risk that employees may be subjected to in a foreign country. However, before setting up business in foreign countries, organizations should create, plan and manage a strategy to deal with cases of insecurities that may arise. The strategy formulation should include every employee so as to ensure that there is a coordinated approach to the safety and protection of staff in case of an emergency (Fee at al., 2013, p. 3). Also, the organization should set up a budget to back up the creation and implementation of the emergency plan as well as a crisis management team in case of an exit plan.

The best way to prepare to respond to a security crisis is to create and have a plan before the incidence happens. Many people will be unable to think clearly and logically in the case of a crisis. Therefore, it is important to formulate a plan in advance when there is time to be thorough. Rather than just viewing the situation as is, it is important to brainstorm the worst-case scenario and find solutions on what can be done in such an incidence (Bader et al., 2015, p. 3). Once potential threats are identified, consider how they would affect the staff and how to respond to them. The action plan should include training, proper communication channels, and kidnap and ransom insurance for employees. The host country in consideration is Nigeria. Based on the risk assessment, it is evident that terrorism is the major cause of insecurity in the country. The strategy, therefore, should equip staff traveling to the country with necessary information and skills to deal with terrorism cases and other related incidences.

The first step in ensuring safety for employees in foreign countries is to offer training that equips the employees with necessary skills and resources to deal with emergencies that may arise. The employee security training should be carried out by professionals in the field. During the training, there should be a proper briefing of all staff members on the security procedures in their duty station. The training should outline the responsibilities of each person in the emergency plan, medical duties for designated people, a preferred method for reporting emergencies, the actions needed in case of emergency, and the sequence to be followed to ensure that everyone is safe (Daly, 2015, p. 17). After the employees have traveled, the organization should test the action plan regularly to ensure it is effective, working and if it needs any revision. Also, the organization should always be informed of the whereabouts of employees as well as their families at all times. However, since employees are entitled to privacy, the employers must have well-defined policies on monitoring and staff should consent to these policies.

The second step is to ensure that there is regular communication with the staff after they have traveled to the foreign country for the international assignment. There should be detailed communication channels for emergency response, and the organizations should have contact information of all foreign staff (Fee and McGrath-Champ, 2016, p. 4). The details would assist in communication with the staff regularly and give them necessary information concerning their protection and security. Also, it would assist in the provision of a security briefing to them so that they can have a better understanding of potential risks as well as the support that the organization will give them.

The final thing to consider is insurance for employees. Ransom and kidnapping insurance is important because it includes the provision of professional training consultants for the training of staff on kidnapping preventive measures (Cai, 2015, p. 8). If the prevention fails, the insurance provides kidnap negotiators as well as covering ransom and extortion payments. With such insurance, an organization can exercise their legal duty of care in providing a safer environment to their employees.

Exit Plan

If the situation in the host country deteriorates to an extent where the lives of the employees are endangered, it may become necessary for the organization to execute additional security procedures. This may include evacuating of the employees and their dependents out of the nation to a safer destination. To be effective, any evacuation plan should be flexible so as to adjust to the changing circumstances common in such situations (Fee et al., 2013, p. 4). Also, due to diversity in the foreign staff, there should be proper ethical codes so as to ensure effective management of diversity.

The crisis management team formulated in the action plan should be the one to implement and manage the evacuation process. The tasks of the crisis management team would include establishing communication links with relevant sources so as to obtain accurate information regarding the issue and formulating and executing strategies to facilitate the appropriate course of action to ensure employee safety (Fee et al., 2013, p. 6). Diversity in the foreign staff calls for a procedure to follow to ensure safety for everyone. Therefore, higher-risk personnel such as the disabled, women and children will leave first. The preferred method of evacuation in case of an emergency is air but in cases where it may be unavailable, other means of transport such as roads would be utilized. The evacuation strategy would be based on threat levels which depend on the seriousness of the situation. The threat levels would be; caution, alert, emergency, and crisis. The situation is expected to progress from one level to another, and the crisis management team should carry the actions most appropriate with the threat level.

Conclusion

Increasing globalization has resulted in many organizations sending their employees to developing markets and high-risk locations. In doing so, the organizations should ensure that they fulfill the duty of care to their employees by carrying out a risk assessment of the host nations, formulating proper strategies, and having a proper exit plan in case of an emergency. On the other hand, employees in foreign countries should ensure that they follow the set security guidelines and practices for their safety. When everyone carries out their responsibilities, then businesses can venture into foreign markets with higher chances of succeeding.

References

Achumba, I. C., Ighomereho, O. S. and Akpor-Robaro, M. O. M., 2013. Security challenges in Nigeria and the implications for business activities and sustainable development. Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development, 4(2).

Adora, C. U., 2010. Managing tourism in Nigeria: The security option. Management Science and Engineering, 4(1), p. 14.

Andrew, C. and Kennedy, M., 2003. Root Causes of Human Insecurity in a New Security Paradigm: The Cambridge Security Seminar. University of Cambridge, UK.

Bader, B., Berg,N. and Holtbrugge, D., 2015. Expatriate performance in terrorism-endangered countries: the role of family and organizational support. International Business Review, 24(5), pp.849-860.

Cai, C., 2015. Kidnapping and Ransom Insurance Product Development (Doctoral dissertation, Worcester Polytechnic Institute).

Daly, J.L., 2015. Training in developing nations: A handbook for expatriates. Routledge.

Fee, A., McGrath-Champ, S. and Liu, H., 2013. Human resources and expatriate evacuation: a conceptual model. Journal of Global Mobility, 1(3), pp.246-263.

Fee, A. and McGrath-Champ, S., 2016. The role of human resources in protecting expatriates: Insights from the international aid and development sector. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, pp.1-26.

Global Peace Index (GPI, 2016). Global Peace Ranking. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Peace_Index [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Leke, A., Fiorini, R., Dobbs, R., Thompson, F.,...

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