Cost savings has long been the focus of many corporate travel policies.
The only reason businesses spend money on travel is because they expect positive outcomes from those trips. Travel programs should be designed to maximize those outcomes rather than to minimize travel costs.
Senior management should prioritize trip success rates as well as road warrior retention. This shift in strategy will increase their road warrior’s willingness to travel and decrease burn out and attrition rates.
Findings (study done by ARC – Airline Reporting Corporation) have revealed the negative impact of cost-focused travel policies; the keys to reducing road warrior attrition risk; the importance of traveler sleep, health and safety; and the benefits of better-quality travel.
Senior executives can use these findings to significantly reshape their corporate travel program’s strategic priorities. Doing so should lead to more successful trips and better road warrior retention and wellness.
Seventeen percent of road warriors are presently or nearly burned out from travel.
The main causes are too many nights away from home, the stress of travel and travel’s negative impact on their health and their families.
When compared to those managed under traveler-focused travel policies, road warriors managed under cost-focused travel policies report:
- An attrition risk nearly twice as high (33% vs 17%)
- Fewer trips rated mostly or very worthwhile (57% vs 67%)
- Less willingness to travel in the future (57% vs 47%)
- Nearly twice the negative impact from travel on their health and their families
Companies should consider investing in wellness programs tailored to road warriors. The expected benefits would be reduced anxiety, reduce the negative impact of jet lag, improved sleep quality and improved on-trip behaviors such as diet and exercise.
Companies with cost-focused travel policies should consider changing to more traveler-focused policies if they want to increase trip success rates and decrease road warrior attrition risk. Allowing business class on flights longer than six hours, encouraging road warriors to use less of their personal time for traveling and helping travelers obtain better sleep on the road should all help achieve better business results. Traveler burnout is correlated with low-quality trips and number of nights away, so management should improve the quality of trips for their road warriors, monitor their tolerance for more nights on the road and reduce approval for trips less likely to be worthwhile.
Some Key Traveller Focused Policy Considerations:
Trip Success Rates
The most important outcome of any trip is whether or not it was successful at meeting its objective. Road warriors reported that only 63 percent of trips taken in the previous 12 months were mostly or very worthwhile.
Losing talent is costly. The average road warrior typically has valuable skills and/or relationships that are not easily replaced. Decreasing road warrior attrition risk should be a central goal for most every travel program.
Reluctance to Travel
As with any employee, road warriors’ personal and professional priorities change over time, so it isn’t surprising that many want to significantly reduce their travel workload in the future. Just as retention is better than attrition, so is reducing a road warrior’s long-term reluctance to travel.
Getting burned out on travel appears to be a precursor to higher attrition risk and greater long-term reluctance to travel. It’s important to understand what causes traveler burnout and to monitor those who may be most at risk.
New Benchmarks for Travel Management
Businesses need to identify opportunities to improve on strategically important outcomes.
Traveller safety is also something company’s need to have on their radar if they have travelling employees. Unfortunately, travel – especially international travel – can occasionally create some risks for travellers. These threats range from unpredictable weather to civil unrest, crime, or worse. While these instances are relatively rare, business travellers may feel vulnerable and anxious if they are uninformed or unable to communicate effectively during a time of perceived risk. Find out what Duty of Care practices your Travel Management Company provides and ensure you are leveraging them.
Travel is an emotional experience. A business trip that’s comfortable and rewarding contributes to positive morale and motivation, which is paramount to achieving a successful business trip. Poor travel experiences affect workplace attitudes, as well as an employee’s personal life, when families are left to deal with an exhausted, stressed-out employee at home.
Senior Managers should take note. Satisfied business travellers tend to stay on the job longer and are more productive than those who are stressed out and exhausted. Travel costs also come down because satisfied travellers are generally more compliant with travel programme policies. It’s necessary to build travel satisfaction goals with data-driven decisions about travel policies, and the right travel management partner can make a big difference.