Business travel may be an essential aspect of your company’s growth, but too much of it also can have a negative effect on your employees. Road-weary travelers don’t perform at the top of their game. Their productivity suffers, their bodies crash and they require more sick days. And it’s only a matter of time when these road warriors become so frustrated they either check out mentally and go against the policy or check out entirely and find a new job with more attractive benefits.
Since we would hate to see it get to that point, here are 20 tweaks you can make to your travel program to demonstrate how much you value your traveling employees’ health and well-being.
Since following every single suggestion isn’t practical from a budgetary standpoint — and will require varying levels of support from other stakeholders — pick and choose which options best fit your company.
- Provide your travelers with key health information, such as destination-specific travel alerts, pre-travel immunization requirements and the contact numbers to call if they have a medical emergency.
- Cover the $100 fee for travelers who join TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. For your VIPs, also throw in CLEAR membership (which is $179 annually but check about discounts from Delta) so they can jet to the front of the TSA physical screening line.
- Give employees the freedom and resources to have a little “me time” on business trips by adopting a “bleisure” policy that enables them to add leisure days to their itinerary.
- Provide employees who travel on weekends and holidays paid time off, a telecommuting option or flexible work hours once they are back on home turf.
- Encourage your fliers to take nonstop flights and offer them airport lounge passes if they do get stuck with a layover.
- Hire an instructor to lead a workshop that teaches employees mindfulness practices they can use anytime, anywhere to relieve stress, boost their focus and enhance efficiency.
- Be like the French and give employees the “right to disconnect.” Encourage them to go on a “digital detox” and not respond to work communications after a certain hour so they can relax and explore the destination they’re in.
- Offer to reimburse travelers for fitness classes they take during their trip, especially if there is no gym in the hotel.
- Be somewhat flexible with airfare. Don’t push travelers to take the flight that gets them out of bed before the crack of dawn just so the company can save 50 bucks.
- Traveling can put a strain on relationships, so help road warriors nurture their personal connections by allowing a travel companion to tag along with them (if they cover the additional costs) or paying for international calls to their loved ones back home.
- Through a corporate social media or intranet page devoted to your travelers, share links to websites, blogs and articles that offer tips on staying healthy and sane while on the road, from exercises they can do on the go to signs they’re suffering travel burnout.
- Make “business class seats on any flight over six hours” officially a part of your travel policy.
- See if there’s room in the budget to cover premium economy seats on domestic flights — and don’t even think about asking them to take basic economy seats, which likely isn’t a good fit for your program anyhow.
- Get inside your travelers’ heads by soliciting feedback through surveys to understand what aspects of the program they like and dislike and find creative solutions that address their top complaints.
- Especially for younger travelers with less experience on the road, offer training on how they can manage the culture shock and anxiety they may experience when placed in an unfamiliar environment.
- Conduct pre-trip mental health screenings, especially with new hires, to understand their psychological well-being and if they can withstand the stresses of travel.
- Don’t make your employees jump through hoops to get reimbursed. Create a streamlined process for expense reporting that easily can be managed with a few swipes on their smartphone.
- Boost trip quality by giving your travelers a mix of hotel options so they can choose ones that they find comfortable and/or are conveniently located to where they’ll be doing business.
- Make it super-easy for your employees to deal with a trip disruption by outsourcing the rebooking headache to someone else — i.e., us! When you sign up for our Proactive Care Traveler program, our friendly counselors, who are available 24/7 and have instant access to itineraries, profiles and supplier programs, will do all the rescheduling so your travelers don’t have to worry.
- No matter their rank, treat your travelers like VIP. A warm greeting with a big smile and an upbeat email thanking them for their commitment (preferably from the top) can help melt away some of the frustration they’ve accumulated during their journeys.
A final note
Now we know what you’re thinking. Some of the above is costly and won’t fly with cost-sensitive stakeholders. But here’s a way to win them over: With the help of your HR department, figure out how many road warriors stuck around beyond year three. Then calculate how much was spent to hire their replacements. If the changes you’re proposing to the program are a fraction of what it costs to hire new talent (again and again), you should have the ammunition you need to convince senior management that your recommendations are worth the investment.