It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in business travel management to figure out how important employee wellbeing considerations are. They're actually more important than ever as we enter the "next normal".
In a COVID and post-pandemic world, the main focus of company travel policies will naturally be on health and safety. As companies begin to review these policies for our new reality (in fact, a recent TravelPerk survey shows that 50% of companies are doing just that), now might be a good time to think about what else falls under that umbrella.
It's not too soon to start preparing for the return to business travel. That's why you should take the time to think about the role of wellness in your company travel policy now. You want happy and healthy employees, don't you? Well, then read on!
Employee stress will impact their productivity
Unhealthy dining, disrupted sleep patterns, delayed flights and trains, hectic meeting schedules, unfamiliar environments, burnout...the list goes on and on. Business travel can induce a lot of stress points, even for the most seasoned traveler. This ultimately leads to reduced employee morale, productivity, and performance, as well as presenteeism and absenteeism.
A well-implemented workplace health program and wellbeing strategy that includes business travel can solve all that. In fact, 80% of employees in companies with policies that support their mental wellbeing and physical health feel more taken care of and more engaged. That, in turn, makes them +20% more profitable! ... And who wouldn't want that?
So what kind of wellbeing initiatives can you implement?
No traveling employee looks forward to getting back to the office and working first thing in the morning. It’s not a sign of poor work ethic — it’s just natural. Employee wellbeing strategies that take their work-life balance into account are a great way to drive employee engagement and inspire better work.
Give them the flexibility to adjust their own itinerary
To maintain a focus on traveler wellbeing, it’s important to recognize the significance ample rest has on an employee’s overall physical and mental health. One way to help employees is to consider a flexible purchasing policy that can adapt depending on the circumstances of the business trip. Why not have a perk that allows employees to change their trip itinerary? It will make them a thousand times happier! Maybe they can come home to their dog sooner—let them! Or maybe they're somewhere with a great beach and want to stay a few more days... They should!
Make sure they've got great customer support
Employees also shouldn't have to fend for themselves should travel disruptions occur. Let's face it, with all of these travel restrictions and health requirements changing at their current pace, that would be a huge source of stress. With an alert and proactive Customer Care team and an all in one corporate travel booking company, traveling employees can mitigate the unexpected in a far healthier way.
Give them a bit of a treat!
Don't forget that ROI on your travel spend is directly linked to employee performance. Think about it — who will perform better: the employee who spent a five-hour flight in a cramped seat with less-than-stellar food, or the one who spent it in a seat with more legroom and healthier meals? Is it the employee staying at the same old business hotel they always stay in? Or the employee who got a nice little surprise at a superior, design hotel?
You also need to think about the effects of a long-haul flight on your employees. No one gets off an 8-hour flight feeling totally fresh and ready to attack the day, so you should include clauses in your policy that address this. Be inspired: they can be as diverse as a policy that forbids looking at emails six hours after arriving, encouraging working from home, enabling flexible working hours, or implementing a full post-trip duvet day that helps employees feel well-rested for upcoming challenges. Don't forget that jetlag can seriously impact your employee's health and productivity.
In fact, 87% of travelers feel that the quality of their business travel impacts their business results. So while it might seem simple enough, spending a little extra goes a long way for both companies and their employees. Even something small like the option to upgrade to Economy Plus or Business, or even access the Business Lounge, can go a long way.
Preparation is absolutely key!
Sometimes, it's the little things that count. Help make the travel process as painless as possible by reviewing carriers for things like on-time performance, luggage delivery times, and legroom. Read reviews on hotels too in an effort to address some oft-overlooked stressors of business travel.
You should also try not to be "that guy/gal". You know the one, who forgets major events or holidays when booking business travel. Don't put your employees in a position where they have to remind you of their days off.
An attractive travel package is great for bringing in new talent
Did you know that in the US, 59% of job applicants say that a company's travel policy and wellbeing program is an important factor in their decision-making (according to recent research from GBTA)? Attracting top-tier talent is a race nowadays, and any added incentive (like great business travel policies with fun benefits) can go a long way! Workplace wellbeing and a great working environment (whether in the office or on a business trip) is a major selling point for millennial job-seekers.
Having a good travel policy is also a great way to keep the employees you have happy. By catering to the needs of your employees, you inspire loyalty and the desire to stay on-board long-term. As they say, a happy employee is your greatest asset! Not to mention that you can turn them into the best brand ambassadors when headhunters come sniffing around.
If you need more convincing...
Incorporating a more mindful, health-centric approach to your travel policy impacts productivity in a hugely positive way. Spending on business travel must be seen as an investment, not an expense. Treating it as such will pay off in the long run, both for the traveler’s health and satisfaction, a company’s employee retention and long-term success.
At the end of the day, the return that comes from treating employees like the talent they are will generate goodwill from them, retain them for longer, and bring unparalleled value for the business itself.
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