In 2021, U.S. business travelers took 250 million domestic business trips. That number is expected to hit 487 million in 2026. Here, we see many employees travel frequently for business. And that number is only set to grow in the future.
This is probably because work-related travel is often a core component of a company’s success. For instance, company leaders may need to travel to meet potential partners. Or, managers may need to attend conferences that teach them how to be better managers.
That said, not all corporate travel experiences are created equal. Human Resources (HR) plays a significant role in ensuring their employees have a seamless travel experience. HR leaders that are most successful at supporting their corporate travelers engage in these behaviors.
There is no denying the risks associated with traveling. For example, working frequent long hours away from home in rural areas present significant health and wellness risks for employees vs. in urban areas.
Rural areas typically don’t have as many healthy food choices as urban areas. So, the longer you stay, the more opportunity there is for an onset of obesity. There are only so many options for socialization, recreational and family activities. Risky behaviors like smoking and alcohol consumption are higher in rural areas as well.
Traveling frequently also gives way to other risks, such as:
- Communication barriers that lead to dangerous situations
- Being subjected to severe weather conditions
- Long road trips on unstable road conditions
- Experiencing fatigue and lack of concentration when driving long distances
- Falling ill or getting injured while in another state or country
- Safety concerns like tourist kidnappings and robberies
Understanding travel risks like the above will help you develop plans to avoid and navigate them should they happen. In addition, you can confidently communicate your risk management strategies with traveling employees to put their minds at ease.
Write down every travel risk you can think of. If you have employee feedback to reference, even better. Then, next to each one, write down what your office is doing to help employees avoid the risk and what you would do in the case the employee encounters said risk.
For example, let’s use one of the risks above, potentially encountering severe weather conditions.
To avoid this risk, you can look up typical weather conditions in the location your employee needs to travel to for each season and refrain from booking travel when things like hurricanes or flooding are common.
If an employee must travel when there’s an increased risk of severe weather, make sure you have safety measures in place, such as alternative travel options to return home and direct access to emergency services in the area.
Better support corporate travelers by educating yourself on various travel risks and developing the best ways to navigate them.
Let’s be real. Traveling can be incredibly stressful, from packing to enduring long travel times to hotel hiccups. Add actually having to work after getting to your destination to this list, and the stress level for your employees can go through the roof.
The last thing you want is a stressed corporate traveler, as stress can lead to poor performance, diminished health, and decreased motivation and productivity.
HR leaders can lower the level of stress for employees traveling frequently in many ways, starting with creating a balanced travel plan.
According to a SleepJunkie survey, only 50% of respondents said they slept well while traveling for business. After four days, travelers felt emotionally fatigued, and after five they felt physically fatigued and homesick.
The survey also revealed that 65% of respondents ate less healthily while traveling for business and 76% exercised less. With statistics like these, we can conclude that HR leaders must prioritize employee health and well-being and ensure they’re comfortable while traveling.
That’s where a balanced travel plan comes into play. A balanced travel plan ensures that employees complete work-related duties while also leaving time for activities that support employee health and well-being, like working out, having family conversations, and getting enough sleep each night.
Create a clear work agenda for each day of your employee’s work trip. Be sure to designate time for breakfast, lunch, and breaks. And pinpoint precisely when each “workday” ends so that employees can fill their nights with health and well-being-related activities.
You should also map out what travel days will look like for employees. That way, they’ll know what to expect travel-wise and can prepare their minds and bodies for it.
Can you imagine getting to the airport and they have no record of your flight accommodations? Or what about arriving in another country and the car you booked for the two-hour drive to your hotel doesn’t show up?
We highlight these unfortunate circumstances to illustrate that things can happen when your employees travel for business. To ensure they aren’t left on their own to deal with challenges that arise, maintain open lines of communication with traveling employees.
Make sure they can contact someone for support at any time. Assigning HR personnel to different shifts in 24 hours is an efficient way to make this happen. You could also create a corporate travel team dedicated to all things business travel.
To make the corporate travel experience less stressful for your employees, you need to know what exactly is making it stressful in the first place.
For example, are there not enough travel options? Are the trips lasting too long? Do employees not get the support they need to work once they’ve arrived at their destination?
Genuine feedback from your employees is critical to supporting corporate travelers better in the future. You can send employees a survey once they return home to gauge their experience. Or, you could call them into your office for a one-on-one discussion. However you decide to solicit feedback from employees after business travel, ensure you’re doing so consistently.
Featured image by Pexel.