World Mental Health Day, October 10, shines a light on the importance of mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that mental health needs are high all over the world, yet responses are falling short. According to WHO, 1 in 8 people globally live with mental health challenges. Those facts raise a flag to business leaders to step up and strive to promote mental health and overall well-being among colleagues. The upcoming holidays in November and December can bring added stressors, meaning now is a good time to start. Whether you’ve already given thought to mental health at work or haven’t yet begun, consider these insights and suggestions as a guide.
Be more intentional about trip planning
As many employees have shifted to virtual work settings, mental health issues have increased. The report, Supporting Mental Health in the Workforce from Integrated Benefits Institute, links remote and hybrid work with a greater likelihood of anxiety and depression. From our standpoint, personal interactions can help offset certain feelings of isolation. There’s nothing like the spark and synergy of face-to-face meetings to boost your mood. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows social connections can improve health and well-being. That said, it’s a good idea to look within your own company to see if colleagues that work remotely have enough opportunities to get together in person. Business travel should support the needs of your company. If remote work is creating more dispersed teams, then it’s more important to bring them together through travel.
Findings from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services show the value of face-to-face interactions in terms of fostering closer relationships. Scheduling a community volunteering event or motivational speaker at an inspiring venue can instill a feeling of connection and belonging among your colleagues while taking the monotony out of the work week.
An inclusive work environment where people of all identities can bring their authentic selves to work can also promote a sense of belonging. Although, that sentiment may change when they venture off on a business trip. They may encounter challenges at unfamiliar destinations that they wouldn’t ordinarily face in a familiar work setting with colleagues. A shift in workplace doesn’t shift responsibility for employers. Businesses are still responsible for the health and well-being of their employees when they travel for work as part of their duty of care obligation. The first step in looking after them is being aware of the issues they may face while they’re away.
SAP® Concur® reported that 94% of LGBTQ+ business travelers have faced discrimination in their work trip, based on a global business travel survey of over 3,800 travelers. And a survey commissioned by World Travel Protection revealed that safety is an issue for more women than men travelers. Over 30% of those surveyed said they don’t go out on their own at night, compared to 18 percent of men.
Take a holistic approach to well-being
If managing travel is one of your responsibilities at work, you can take preventive measures by sourcing travel suppliers that consider diverse populations and travelers requiring special assistance. For example, check to see that airline providers offer passenger assistance for those with mobility challenges. Also consider sensory needs. People with neurodiverse challenges may need a quiet space. And stay aware of countries that have harmful gender norms. As you give thought to providers and destinations, make sure your travelers know where to turn when they need immediate assistance on a business trip.
Psychological safety is just as important as physical safety. For people to live and work at their best, social scientists believe they need to feel as though it’s safe to share feedback – even when that feedback is negative – without fear of retaliation. According to McKinsey, psychological safety helps create an innovative, strong community, and 89% of those they surveyed believe it’s essential in the workplace. Leadership behaviors that encourage an open dialogue can enhance psychological safety.
Sometimes a simple question like “how was your last business trip?” can mean a lot. An article in PhocusWire states that regular check-ins with colleagues show a level of respect and compassion that can make a difference in their workday. Aim to find out if too many evening flights are booked which can add on stress. Those with hectic flight schedules can benefit from a reminder to book morning, non-stop flights, and a tip to travel with a meditation app. Through our support, travelers have a way of offsetting flight disruptions with little effort.
Get accurate well-being metrics
When all is said and done, you may be wondering how to get a better handle on traveler well-being. At American Express Global Business Travel, we have several measurement tools that can help. One example is our well-being dashboard, available through our consulting teams. The dashboard’s travel metrics help clients benchmark against other businesses to find out if travelers are flying too much or if trips are too long. If you’re interested in learning more ways we can help you enhance travel well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out.