It doesn’t take a PHD in travel management to figure out how important duty-of-care considerations are. Yet, despite how crucial they are, they’re still too narrow.
Today, because of heightened states of travel all over the world, the majority of travel policies naturally focus on safety and security. But with safety and security in the spotlight, the importance of the health and wellbeing of traveling employees can be lost.
As much as the idea of work/life balance has permeated business culture, applying those same ideals to business travel has been slow going. Still, more and more travel managers are beginning to consider the importance of health and wellbeing when it comes to creating effective travel policy.
At the end of the day, the return that comes from treating employees like the talent they are generates goodwill from them, retains them for longer, and unparalleled value for the business itself.
Make sure your business travel policies reflect a thoughtful approach to traveler wellbeing for your road warriors with these tips and tricks:
Preparation is absolutely key!
Before you send your employees off, make sure to keep in mind the broader picture. To start, take a look at the trip’s purpose and go from there. If an employee needs to perform well at a crucial round of negotiation, for instance, then it follows that comfort and support are critical to their performance.
To ensure this level of support and care, it’s critical that travel managers are as informed as possible. Spend time reviewing carriers for things like on-time performance, luggage delivery times, and legroom, along with reviews on hotels in an effort to address some oft-overlooked stressors of business travel. This results in better decisions all around.
It’s vital that travel managers be aware of major events or holidays when booking business travel. These can not only jack up prices all around, but add additional points of frustration and waste time for the traveler. Think about other aspects of travel as well, like the role a timezone change or sleep deprivation play in generating travel stress. This information not only informs better preparation and decision making when it comes to booking, but also shows employees their best interest is at heart.
It’s also important to consider the ROI on travel spend. Think about it — Who will perform better at crucial round of negotiation: the employee who spent a five-hour flight in a cramped seat with less-than-stellar food, or the employee who spent a five-hour flight in a seat with more legroom and healthier meals? While it might seem simple enough, spending a little extra for a first class seat, for instance, goes a long way for both companies and their employees.
Your traveling employees are your flock — support them!
In the past, lighthouses had the role of leading seafaring ships to land. Now both the travel manager and the travel agent do the same, serving as a traveling employee’s liaison during a business trip. Some digital travel solutions even provide 24-hour-travel support for an additional layer of security.
During a trip, it’s easy for business travelers to feel stressed, with everything from delayed flights to lost luggage contributing to the feeling. That’s why it’s essential that travel managers provide as much real-time information as possible during a trip. If possible, updating traveling employees with information on delayed flights, upcoming connections, mechanical problems and the like can make a huge difference for a traveler’s wellbeing while they’re on the go. And with the amount of technology connecting us all these day, doing so has never been easier.
Failing this, travel managers should aim to solve major disruptions instead of leaving employees to fend for themselves. For an employee, solving a major travel problem themselves can induce high levels of travel stress. With an alert and proactive travel manager backed up by a capable digital travel service, traveling employees can mitigate the unexpected in a far healthier way by knowing that support is a phone call or email away.
Give employees ways to de-stress
No traveling employee looks forward to getting back to the office and working first thing in the morning. That’s not a sign of poor work ethic — it’s just natural.
To maintain a focus on traveler wellbeing, it’s important to recognize the significance ample rest has on an employee’s overall health. One way to help employees is to consider a flexible purchasing policy that can adapt depending on the circumstances of the business trip. If the opportunity presents itself where an employee can come back earlier than anticipated, in most cases you just made that employee one thousand times happier! (Unless that somewhere is a place with beautiful beaches. In this case, let them stay!)
You can also consider adding clauses to your travel policy that address the time when an employee returns from a more demanding long-haul flight. Be inspired: they can be as diverse as a policy that forbids looking at emails six hours after arriving, letting employees lightly work from home, or implementing a full post-trip duvet day that helps employees feel well-rested for upcoming challenges.
Health and wellbeing must be the core of your travel policy
Incorporating a more mindful, health-centric approach to travel policy impacts productivity in a hugely, positive way. Spending on business travel is an investment, not an expense. Treating it as such will pay dividends in the long run, both for the traveler’s health and satisfaction and a company’s employee retention and long-term success.