11 October 2017 ,  —


International SOS Survey reveals only 12% of European organisations are confident they can handle the emotional needs of their mobile workforce globally

96% feel their mobile workforce will need some kind of emotional support in the future.

International SOS 2017 Business Travel and Emotional Support Europe Survey1 reveals the impact business travel can have on mental health:

The lack of work life balance is the #1 stress factor for business travellers
61% report that working in a high risk environment has had the greatest impact on their workforce
66% see immediate emergency emotional support as the critical response to an incident needed to be put in place

International SOS, the world’s leading medical and travel security services company, today released the results of its 2017 Business Travel and Emotional Support Europe Survey.  At a time when the International Labour Organisation (ILO) considers work-related stress as a "21st-century disease", 49% of organisations said they don’t provide emotional support for their mobile workers.


europe emotional support main picture

Dr. Rodrigo Rodriguez-Fernandez, Medical Director at International SOS commented: “As mental health in the workplace rises on the corporate agenda and its impact on business productivity becomes increasingly evident2, it is vital for organisations to take into account the emotional well-being of their mobile workforce. This rapidly growing segment of the workforce is often under unique stress factors.  Organisations sending employees on short or long term assignments abroad need to consider, pre-trip emotional support that is appropriate for the destination and reactive response support systems that can be implemented quickly in times of an unexpected incident or accident.”

Mary Ellen Gornick, Senior Vice President of Global Products at Workplace Options: “We find that mobile workers experience stress in a variety of ways. In addition to the duties they must perform while travelling, many of their workloads still include normal daily tasks that they tend to before and after business hours. For rotators, in some industries, their work brings long days, few breaks, difficulty in communicating with loved ones, and anxiety over feelings of isolation. Their stress levels may be exacerbated by concerns about family situations back home and their inability to be present to help. Their usual support systems are not available to them, and their social time is often spent with colleagues. There is very little work-life balance for many in these situations.”

Business Travel Stress Factors 
The very nature of the working life of business traveller intrinsically incurs some of the most common and well documented work related factors. The top 5 business travel stress factors identified by the 2017 Business Travel and Emotional Support Europe Survey were:

1. Lack of work life balance
2. Isolation, disconnection from personal/work support for a period of time
3. Organisational structure and climate change or complexity
4. Travelling through time zones
5. Poor sleep and diet

Dr. Rodriguez-Fernandez continues, “Travelling or moving to a foreign country or working in a remote location can bring unique stress factors to the employee or a member of their family. Working on a rig, on–board a ship or in a compound blurs the boundaries between work and personal life. Expatriate families can often experience stress related to social isolation and differing culture.”

Top Incidents
The respondents also reported the incidents that have had the most impact on their mobile workers in the past:


Xavier Carn, Regional Security Director at International SOS and Control Risks: “In the current global environment, business travellers are also faced with a perception of heightened travel and security risk3. While this is something that impacts everyone, the business traveller may be required to more often pass through territories that are uncommon to them or work in higher risk environment as business’ increasingly look to expand global footprints.”

Future Needs for Emotional Support
When it comes to putting solutions in place, 66% see immediate emergency emotional support as the most important response to an incident. Preventive solutions such as pre-departure emotional assessment for individual employee and family members are considered by only 32% organisations.


“European organisations recognise the need for broader emotional support for their mobile workers. It has become critical for employers to combine an immediate response approach with a proactive one when it comes to managing mental health issues, integrating this topic into the wider Duty of Care agenda. Organisations need to start putting stronger pre-departure risk management procedures in place to help employees manage workplace stress.”

View our 2017 Business Travel and Emotional Support Infographic.  


About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help you meet compliance reporting needs for good governance. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.


Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group is trusted by 12,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune Global 500, multi-national corporate clients and mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 10,000 multi-cultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 85 countries, 24/7, 365 days.   

To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips:



About Workplace Options

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family and personal needs to become healthier, happier and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness and well-being services provide information, resources, referrals and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programmes.
Drawing from an international network of credentialed providers and professionals, Workplace Options is the world’s largest integrated employee support and work-life services provider.  Service centres in the US, UK, UAE, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, France, Canada, Singapore, Japan, China, India and Indonesia support more than 53 million employees in over 78,000 organisations, across more than 200 countries and territories.  To learn more, visit

Notes to Editors
 1 2017 Business Travel and Emotional Support Survey is an International SOS survey conducted from 27th April to 30th June 2017 targeted to those who are responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of their mobile workers. This survey  findings represent the responses from 139 organisations in 13 countries in Europe.
 2 According to the World Health Organisation, just $1 of investment in treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in better health and ability to work

 3 International Travel: Risks & Realities: The New Normal for Business, an Ipsos MORI research study conducted among 1,119 business decision makers across 75 countries.  Research was conducted online using representative panels in the period October 6 to October 26 2016.