SME Businesses whose employees travel as part of their work recognise that if they wish to retain talent, support employee longevity, and diminish burnout then they need to invest in traveller wellbeing in a way that balances cost and employee welfare in equal measure.
With the elevated awareness around wellbeing and with the pandemic giving most regular business travellers a period of being ‘grounded’, many may be less willing to make the sacrifices that were expected of them previously, and organisations must acknowledge that traveller wellbeing is a key priority for them.
With business travel starting to accelerate back in 2022 driven by pent up demand for practical business activity alongside increased demand in global meetings and events, businesses are also being faced with rising fuel and energy costs, plus, increased demand for travel flexibility and choice……so how do SMEs balance cost versus traveller wellbeing?
Our Strategic Account Manager, Andy Sison, will focus on some practices within two parts which travel managers can use to deliver both value and service, to support balancing cost with traveller wellbeing.
Communicate and build understanding
Primarily, you need to talk to your travellers. If you only have a few people who travel for business purposes within your company, then schedule some time to talk to them face-to-face or via an e-meeting platform. This will help you understand wellbeing needs, travel plans and what support your travellers feel they need to feel safe and supported while travelling on company business. A conversation may inspire your travelling workforce to manage their well-being and apply healthy practices while on trips.
Historically, travel data was used to monitor travel expenditure, but today we see a new knowledge of how the total cost of each trip sits beside its real value or return on investment (ROI) to a business, and whether it was a positive experience for traveller wellbeing alongside the business objective.
If you have a larger travelling workforce, you can use free automated survey tools such as ‘Survey Monkey’ or ‘Survey Sparrow’ to get traveller feedback and you`ll be able to analyse the results. However, if you want to invest further, such survey tools allow you to purchase a licence to enable more in-depth reporting features.
Any data gained from discussions and surveys can be compared to business performance to see if you can spot any trends that need addressing. You may gain insights into how your travellers perceive your business travel policy or you may address any areas of traveller friction which you can look to address. Are there any outside influences or anxieties over international travel that need some support, either with your business traveller or their family?
Interest in employee well-being doesn’t just come from specialists concerned with Duty of Care, but can also come from employees who invest in welfare and personal development pushing it themselves.
Providing guidance on how to take care of yourself while travelling on business can have a positive impact on your traveller’s wellbeing. Likewise, with an increased demand for travellers to be given authorisation for bleisure activities, Travel Managers are allowing travellers to use costs associated with business trips to extend their stays to include weekends at their destination, using this time to relax; A small price invested to promote traveller wellbeing.
So, invest in creating flexible travel plans within your business travel activities. This may include travellers having periods of downtime throughout trips or on a traveller’s return home, and by promoting the practice of relax days post-trip. Alongside this, choosing hotels with health amenities and healthier eating options, even if they come at a higher premium than hotels not offering these wellbeing benefits.
Decreasing anxiety before a business travel trip
With the ambiguity of the pandemic, investing in controlling mental health is a progressively more vital concern for companies. As travel puts us into unusual locations and circumstances, on occasion this can cause heightened stress and anxiety. Travelling for Business can also result in other work tasks and activities being left until the return of the trip.
For those who endure unease when travelling for work purposes or experience the above why not allow them to book an airport lounge ahead of their flight to effectively use this time, to catch up with work in a comfortable business environment – travelling employees can use this time productively and a calm environment. Hopefully, this means any work on your colleague’s minds isn’t waiting for them once they return home. Some airport lounges even have their wellness initiatives; Amsterdam’s, Schiphol even has its own meditation centre too.
Encouraging a culture of being well planned will help manage any points which may trigger stress whilst on a trip is vital. Having a toolkit like a traveller trip checklist can put travellers who suffer from stress at ease whilst travelling on business, the toolkit could include elements such as:
- Prepare for any guidelines in place for the countries being visited and ensure your travellers are well briefed on the support you provide to them either directly or from your TMC.
- Ensure you have the relevant apps on your phone for things such as vaccination status, boarding cards or any other documentation
- Prepare what you are going to take on your trip three days before flying
- Pack additional chargers, mounts, and global plus sockets
- Review the weather forecast at your planned destination so you have the correct clothing for where you’re travelling to
- Have a copy of your travel itinerary to make sure you`ve everything you need about your destination and recheck any travel guidelines
- Give a copy of the travel itinerary and plans to your family
- Pack any medication and travel documents in hand luggage
- Download your travel itinerary to access offline
- Download a wellness app
Traveller wellbeing is critical and supports your company’s workforce whilst travelling on a business trip. We`ve highlighted various tools and strategies which can be implemented to balance cost versus traveller well-being whether this is by communicating, taking control, and using risk management processes along with your business travel policy to create the right balance.
It’s clear, travel trip ROI, employee retention and welfare all come into play. Each company has to work out a balance based on its own business strategies whilst supporting the well-being of its travellers, but we hope the tools and ideas we`ve discussed can help you.
Want to discuss this in more detail? We could work with you on a cost exercise to establish the ROI of your travel policy and how you support your employees. We’d love to hear from you! Contact the team today:
T: 0330 004 0520