Anyone who has traveled for business understands the additional strain that inevitably comes with it. It’s a race to catch up on emails and deadlines. And jet lag is always a nuisance. Unfortunately, a recent study suggests business traveler’s friction may have more serious consequences. This study found that business travelers who travel for more than two weeks out of the month may have more anxiety and sleeping problems. They are also more likely to smoke, drink, and lead a sedentary lifestyle. This in turn could lead to associated chronic diseases. With emerging studies like this, it’s evident that travel does have an effect on your travelers. For their well-being and your duty of care responsibility, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your travelers are happy and healthy.
Understanding business traveler’s hierarchy of needs to reduce traveler friction
An interesting theory to understanding the strain on your business travelers, is thinking of traveler friction as a hierarchy of needs. From Scott Gillepsie, the idea is very similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The concept is simple. Business travelers cannot reach the increasing levels on the pyramid if their basic needs at the lower levels have not been met. Health and Safety are the base of the pyramid. First and foremost, your employees should feel safe while traveling. Such as having a hotel reservation and food stipends for their trip. The second level, Productivity, leads to Engagement. If they are safe and healthy, your employees can focus on their work and engage with others proactively. This leads to Impact at the top of the pyramid. Your business traveler can efficiently complete tasks, such as closing the account or resolving client issues.
Scott Gillepsie found that business travelers that have a higher travel friction, or stay lower on the pyramid, are usually less productive. Even with constant travel, they close deals less often. Ultimately costing the company more money in the long run. What’s the point, if an imbalanced travel policy is ultimately losing the company money as well as harming your employee’s wellbeing?
How to reduce business traveler friction, for the health of your employees
So what can companies do to ensure their business travelers are happy? Having a travel policy that’s not just bare bones is great starting point. Sometimes it comes down to the little perks.
- Give them a chance to stay home. Yes, business trips are often great job experience, worth the investment and provide opportunities for employees to prove themselves. But capping travel after a certain amount of time may be good option if applicable for your company. Give your employees a chance to recuperate and enjoy time at home.
- Give them the perks they want, when possible. If they have to travel, at least make it enjoyable and as comforting as possible. Let them keep the reward points. Give them economy seating if the plane trip is over 6 hours. Reimburse for TSA Pre-Check, lounge access or wifi access. Allow use of black car services if your traveler’s plane arrives after 9pm.
- Talk to your travelers. You may think you know what they want, but it could be small details that you don’t realize.
- Incentivise their health and fitness. Create a company-wide competition for working out and eating healthy. Keep them motivated.
- Make expense reporting as easy as possible. Keep the travel-associated tasks as easy as possible to complete.
- Provide time off for the additional time spent traveling and working outside of regular work hours.
- Discourage late flights, early flights or weekend travel.
- Encourage bleisure travel trips.