Think about your most recent trip away, for holiday or work. Did you cook healthy meals? Get plenty of sleep? Keep up your gym routine? Most likely, you let these good habits slip, and on an irregular basis there’s nothing wrong with doing so. But when your job requires frequent travel and time away from home, the cost to mental and physical wellbeing can be too much.
A recent survey completed by UK travel managers has demonstrated a heightened consideration of safety and welfare in 20191. Human factors such as duty of care (73%) and traveller wellbeing (70%) were ranked as the most critical issues facing the industry, well above traditional cost-related concerns.
While striving for greater employee wellness has been a key priority for businesses in terms of their daily office workers, it is important that business start to take more responsibility in ensuring wellbeing for their employees on the road, too. With the right intentions, businesses can start to address this newly discussed level of duty-of-care and design travel policies that incorporate wellbeing practices.
What to consider
When designing a travel policy, businesses need to consider the nature of their most dominant travelling workforce, including their business purpose, demographics and unique behaviours. With millennials expected to make up over 50% of the global workforce in 2020, and already holding majority over the travelling workforce today, the discussion around traveller wellbeing should be had with the particular behaviours of this generation in mind.
It’s time that travel managers start to ask themselves two questions, what is our business doing to improve traveller wellbeing during business trips? and are these practices in-line with the behaviour of our current and future travelling workforce?
Here’s a few simple ways that travel managers can ensure duty of care is met and that the travel experience is greater for the travelling workforce:
Flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage and so forth. Business travel can be a stressful affair, and travel managers have a duty to ensure that measures are in place to facilitate a stress-free travel experience. Contrary to the pre-digital generations of business travellers before them, millennials have grown to expect seamless, hassle-free experiences through the reliance on modern day technology. In a world of complete connectivity, a lack of timely communication is stressful, and when rapid change is required – long delays and approval process inefficiencies just don’t cut it. Through effective travel management, convenient hotel selection and reasonable flight connections travel arrangers can facilitate a stress-free experience for travellers. Furthermore, partnering with a Travel Management Company that offers a 24/7 support service provides your travellers with the peace of mind knowing that they have instant assistance whenever, wherever.
Despite a recent SAP Concur poll showcasing that almost half (48%)2 of business travellers would consider not travelling abroad on business if it took them to an unsafe location, a GBTA survey has found that only 49% of travel programmes include a risk management solution3. The imbalance in these statistics demonstrate a need for travel managers to reassess their programme to ensure traveller wellbeing through adequate safety measures. This is especially important considering that out of the 7,400 business travellers polled by SAP, 23% of British travellers, 34% of French and 19% of Italians said they were involved in or close to a critical incident while away on business over the last 12 months.
A recent study by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) found that 80% of travellers had problems sleeping when away from home, with the average business traveller losing 58 minutes of sleep per night4. While jetlag and long work hours are two contributing factors, business travellers in today’s digital age also suffer from the added exposure to increased levels of artificial light from phones, tablets, laptops and other smart devices. Through monitoring their exposure to natural light, or lack thereof, business travellers can encourage normal sleeping habits by regulating their circadian rhythms, and improve their productiveness, mood, and overall wellbeing while away from home. Travel managers can assist by selecting hotels such as IHG that incorporate natural light concepts into their guest rooms, and airlines that promote sleep through carefully designed cabin lighting.
As consumers we are constantly reminded to exercise through advertisements for online fitness programmes, calorie counting apps or a simple buzz on our wrist telling us to increase our daily step-count. But when travelling for business these expectations can often be difficult to achieve. Daily exercise is about more than just meeting social media goals, it reduces stress, increases blood-flow, and helps travellers stay productive while away. There’s no denying that all these results contribute to overall wellbeing, and that travel managers need to ensure that their travelling workforce has the ability to exercise while away. This can be achieved through hotel selection, focusing on brands and properties that offer fitness centres or healthy menus.
While the majority of companies have employee wellness initiatives in-place, many lack the presence of a policy which applies to the specific travel-related issues that employees may experience.
If you would like to discuss how your business can implement a travel programme that promotes traveller wellbeing, contact one of our travel experts today: