Did you know that protecting the well-being of your business travelers benefits your company in many different ways? Your employees are your most valuable asset. They represent your company on the road and beyond. And asking those employees to take red-eye flights or stay in super-budget hotels with dingy rooms can inhibit morale, which impacts how your company is represented.
When your corporate travel program seeks to minimize the impact of business travel on your employees, you’re protecting your best asset. In a recent GBTA webinar on reducing traveler stress and anxiety, Dr. Lucy Rattrie compared the treatment of business travelers to “athletes in a suit.” She added, “You’d never expect your favorite sports team to get up at 3 a.m., fly somewhere, ace a sports game, fly home, and get up for training at 6 o’clock the next morning.”
Frequent business travel can cause stress and eventually lead to traveler burnout, especially for employees who travel more than 14 days a month. If not taken care of, employees with burnout can feel demoralized and depressed and experience job dissatisfaction and disengagement, resulting in the expensive employee replacement process when they eventually find a better job.
Boost business traveler well-being with information and support
Sending employees on business-related travel without the proper information and support can be setting them up for failure. In a recent Amadeus survey, many employees said “their company doesn’t take steps to actively improve traveler well-being or they are unsure whether the company does.”
Another study revealed that only 44% of international business travelers said they were offered real-time information on security issues and only 43% were given tracking information for their business trips. These employees felt their well-being was of little consequence to their employers.
In order to communicate your commitment and support a culture of health in your business traveler, try these tips:
- Hold traveler training to discuss emergency plans and protocols
- Verify critical health and safety information, such as emergency contacts and personal itineraries
- Lessen the headaches of travel by allowing travelers to rebook delayed or canceled flights through travel advisors
- Review and discuss your travel policy at least once a year to ensure it’s in line with institutional and personnel changes
Let your employees know that you care by providing all the communication and support they need.
Develop a traveler-friendly corporate travel policy
A disorganized travel program with corporate travel policies that only benefit the company result in low traveler well-being. It can even “create costs for employers through higher medical claims, reduced employee productivity and performance, absenteeism, presenteeism, and short-term disability,” according to Amadeus.
Maintaining traveler well-being means being flexible and making accommodations in your policy. Doing so benefits your business because an estimated 84% of business travelers were interested in having a “very attractive travel policy” at work. Also, according to 83% of the respondents, having a better travel policy would be equal to or even more important than pay and responsibilities. This means that taking traveler well-being into account when creating your travel policies is a critical piece of employee retention and recruitment.
Invest in non-stop flights and business class
Now that we know the importance of a traveler-friendly corporate policy, what are some elements that should be incorporated that will really benefit your travelers? According to ARC, the most preferred way to ease travel friction is to allow non-stop flights in the policy. Next on the list are better and more convenient lodging options, allowing business-class travel on extended flights, and providing paid time off after long trips.
Book hotels where employees can be comfortable
When it comes to traveler well-being, finding lodging that positively impacts travelers makes a big difference. Hotels with uncomfortable or limited options leave employees turning to less healthy food options, feelings of frustration, and in some cases, lead to heavy drinking. Quite simply, poor lodging puts employees on the fast track to burnout.
Employees who feel burned out from poor travel itineraries are also more likely to engage in riskier behaviors than they usually do at home. Burnout can lead to an extensive recovery period. It’s in a business’s best interest to provide lodging that is comfortable, meets the traveler’s needs, and creates a sense home.
To better assist your travelers, book hotels with the following facilities and services:
- Easy access to meetings and conferences
- Fitness facilities, pools, or national gym membership reimbursement
- Onsite or nearby dining options that provide healthy food options
- 24-hour services
- Amenity services such as massage and yoga
Mia Kyricos, the global head of well-being at Hyatt Hotels, told the New York Times that our 24/7 world places increasing demands on work and life, so “well-being is top of mind for everyone today, and we think that’s going to continue in the future.”
Incorporate free time or days off into business travel
To increase traveler well-being, consider allowing “bleisure” or “bizcation” travel. These are personal days before or after a business trip that can help your travelers feel more motivated to travel and increase productivity. Because business travel reduces personal and social time, allowing a few leisure days to a travel policy can help your employees have a better work/life balance, leading to better employee well-being.
Your employees can also benefit from this type of business travel when they visit destinations that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Some companies might even consider footing the bill for business travelers to experience bucket list opportunities when en route. These opportunities could be things like visiting the Museo del Prado if they’re in Madrid, ziplining Arebak Volcano when in Costa Rica, or catching a concert in their destination.
Implementing this type of business travel doesn’t have to hurt the bottom line. To thoughtfully implement bleisure into your corporation, consider doing the following:
- Allow employees to take personal days if their originating or returning flight falls on a cheaper travel day
- Provide bleisure opportunities if employees subsidize their travel insurance and any travel changes that increase trip costs
- Establish and define employee responsibilities for bleisure travel, like duty of care, expense tracking, communication, and other travel arrangements
- Allow employees to travel with a self-paid companion to enjoy bleisure time and increase connectivity with family or friends
- Use bleisure travel as a reward for employees who save your business money by complying with corporate travel policies
Even though some corporations have not established bleisure travel, Chubb insurers say it is “ultimately a win-win for employers and employees. By providing guidance and extending protection to employees taking bleisure trips, companies can safeguard their greatest assets, address issues before they arise, and reap the financial benefits of their support.”
Help your employee stay up to date on the latest health information
Within the past few years, successful travel has required travelers to constantly stay on top of ever-changing rules, regulations, and testing policies. Ease the worry that some may feel as they begin traveling again by providing this information to your travelers.
With your company’s research and support, a business traveler can safely navigate their travel itinerary. To help your employee stay up to date on the latest health information, we suggest the following:
- Rely on Christohperson’s pre-trip travel hub. This page provides reliable resources and updates for the most current entry restrictions, health and safety protocols, and travel news.
- Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel website. There you’ll find traveler advice, a disease directory, and frequently asked questions that are beneficial for any traveler on the site.
- Provide traveler trainings. Do your travelers know to pack medications in their carry-on? Do they know to keep prescriptions in the original bottles, so there are no issues with having unmarked medication? Have you provided simple packing lists for the destinations you require, i.e. hand sanitizer, masks, antihistamines, digestion aids, and even seasickness medication? Have you ever encouraged your business travelers to eat healthily and stay hydrated?
- Encourage travelers to stay up-to-date with vaccinations, such as flu and covid vaccines. Vaccinations are required to enter some countries, and it will help protect the employee.
Learn more about Christopherson Business Travel and our full-service travel solutions
Take the guesswork, time, and stress out of corporate travel planning when you hire Christopherson Business Travel. We help you fill in all the gaps in corporate travel management because we understand that successful business travel involves more than just booking flights and hotels. Not only do we have your best interests in mind as a business owner, but we genuinely care about the safety and satisfaction of every employee on your corporate travel management plan. We use industry-leading technologies and personalized service to protect your travelers and your bottom line. Contact us today to see how we can help elevate your business travel management plan.