“Golden Minutes”: How International SOS and Workplace Options Coalesced to Help Clients Quickly in M
Later this month, we will publish the next profile in our series of exclusive online articles examining the 2020 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award nominees. Over the course of the last four months, ASAP members have read the inspiring stories of Banistmo and Reciclar Paga’s groundbreaking recycling program in Panama, PTC’s series of system integrator–run IoT demo centers, the transformation of Blue Yonder’s alliance program, and the versatile Deloitte-Genpact alliance that is ready to storm the marketplace. (ASAP members can read these pieces in the previous four issues of Strategic Alliance Monthly, which can be accessed via the association’s Member Resource Library.)
In a few weeks, ASAP members will learn how International SOS and Workplace Options teamed up to bundle the former’s medical and security services with the latter’s emotional support offerings to deliver comprehensive services to globally mobile workforces in dozens of countries. As readers will discover, this collaboration isn’t just delivering complementary resources to customers—it is eroding the stigma around acknowledging and treating mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, that is still prevalent in many cultures around the world.
If we could do it all over again, we might have considered running this piece in the most recent issue of Strategic Alliance Monthly—in putting this feature together, we learned that May is mental health awareness month. However, while hindsight may be 20/20, foresight is one of this blog’s main functions. As we do with many of our Strategic Alliance Quarterly features, we thought we would dedicate this post to some fascinating facts about the International SOS–Workplace Options alliance that didn’t make the cut in the forthcoming June edition of ASAP’s monthly online-only outlet.
Harmonized Work Styles Result in Smooth Client Service
In ASAP circles, talk often turns to how to make two organizations work seamlessly as one. More specifically, we oftentimes speak abstractly about recognizing and reconciling the different “worldviews,” “assumptions,” or “organizational cultures” that companies bring to the table. These themes came up often in the discussion of how these two organizations harmonized their operations. Sally Wang, group vice president of global partnerships and alliances at International SOS, discussed the differences between how her organization’s medical personnel and Workplace Options’ counselors tackle patient cases.
“Our doctors are not psychologists or social workers, who specialize in mental health. Workplace Options counselors aren’t doctors. You tend to look at the situation from different perspectives,” she said.
The two sides must be in lockstep because time is of the essence with inbound calls. Wang noted that cases of this nature tend to be very intense—many come in the context of heavy physical and emotional support needs. International SOS reps have “golden minutes” to accurately capture details and convey them to their Workplace Options counterparts. Otherwise, frustrated and potentially panicked callers may abandon hope and give up, according to Wang.
“If it is not done smoothly, the member may say, ‘It’s too much work. I don’t really need it,’ and we lose an opportunity to provide holistic care,” she said.
Mary Ellen Gornick, senior strategy advisor at Workplace Options, added that having a dedicated team of counselors from her organization who understand the complexity of issues International SOS clients face has been critical to the partnership's success.
“In addition to having expertise in mental health, these counselors are also skilled at responding to the unique needs of someone who may be traveling frequently or in a remote location or high-threat area,” she shared. “That experience makes a tremendous difference in how counselors are able to tailor the support they offer.”
Review, Realign, Rinse, Repeat
Wang’s colleague Molly Walsh, program manager for the strategic alliances and partnerships group at International SOS, reviews client cases and conducts operational alignment calls each month to discuss situations that might have thrown one or both parties for a loop and explore how to course-correct for similar instances in the future. The two companies have each gotten very comfortable with their partner’s constructive criticism.
“If there are problems, we’re very up front in talking about it,” said Wang.
International SOS and Workplace Options are nominated for the Alliance Excellence Award in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. They are competing with:
- Telecommunications giant Ericsson, which delivered and maintained Internet connectivity to rescue workers in the immediate aftermath of two natural disasters, a devastating cyclone in Mozambique and Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, as part of the United
- Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) Emergency Telecommunications Cluster initiative;
- Global consulting firm Protiviti’s “i on Hunger” program, which delivered 10 million meals to individuals suffering food insecurity;
- Analytics software vendor SAS’s Nordic Hackathon, which convened partners Knowit, Microsoft, Intel, and Evry to mine data for a wide variety of social causes, such as reuniting displaced families via facial recognition technology; and
- The aforementioned Banistmo–Reciclar Paga partnership.
The June Strategic Alliance Monthly will be sent to ASAP members prior to the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, where the Alliance Excellence Award winners will be unveiled. Registration for the Summit, which will take place virtually June 23 through June 25.