Terrorism is a big problem of the 21st Century. It’s hard to avoid the headlines, whether on the TV, radio, internet or newspaper, that inform the world of a new bombing, a shooting or a new terrorist threat from around the globe. While many of us still feel relatively safe in our own homes, what about the expats who are living in the middle of risk areas, and the companies that send them there?
While the death of an employee due to a terrorist attack in a foreign country may be an infrequent occurrence, terrorism has far more significant and indirect effects on international companies. There can be a shortage of goods and raw materials, a dip in the economy, changes in government legislation and increased security measures that could inhibit the daily life of both the company and its employees.
For expats themselves, terrorism is a source of intense stress for expats in risk areas, particularly the middle east. German researchers Bader and Berg (2014) have analyzed the effects of terrorism on expats, particularly their performance, and have suggested ways to lessen the stress. This mainly includes organizations ensuring that employees are not lead to panic, but instead are given real, accurate and non-sensationalized information about the nature of any terrorist threat. Also, the provision of special training and support to employees personal lives can lower stress levels.
Fortunately, most expats are either well aware of terrorist risks on entering a country or are made immediately aware should any threat develop. As of March 2015, Chad, Algeria and Saudi Arabia have been deemed some of the riskiest places for expats due to attacks and kidnappings of Westerners with terrorist links.
Although governments all over the world are fighting the war on terrorism every day, many expats or companies cannot avoid countries at risk. Expats can only help themselves by staying completely up to date with any local or international news, as well as being well versed in safety procedures. If the risk is too high, then returning home or to a safer country is best for maintaining peace of mind.