Who's looking out for you when you travel on work?

Arlene Coyle

Senior Vice President Commercial for Corporations, Travel Channels, Amadeus

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This may come as a surprise to employees who notch up miles on corporate travel, but travel managers are not expected by their organizations to look into traveler well-being. In our survey of travel managers from medium to large companies across the globe, 44% stated that they had no duty of care responsibilities. Additionally, only 26% claimed to have received instructions from their organizations to introduce programs or develop strategies to reduce travel related stress. 

The cause for concern arises in light of recent, major studies undertaken that have shown a strong link between the frequency of business travel and a wide range of physical and behavioral health risks. With an ever-growing number of countries demanding that employers have a legal and ethical duty of care to their employees, companies can ill afford to overlook the well-being of their employees on business travel.

This is not to say that corporationsare not thinking about traveler well-being - in fact 75% of travel managers said that their companies pay some or even significant attention to traveler well-being; however, these good intentions are not translating into concrete actions. Thus, while 39% said that their organizations take active steps towards improving traveler well-being, exactly the same number say no steps are being taken and the balance - 22% - are unsure.

What this shows is a potential internal disconnect within the organization due to a lack of inter-departmental coordination. Traveler well-being after all is a multi-department responsibility that goes way beyond the roles of procurement or travel. It needs to be addressed by HR and Risk Management in addition. In large complex organizations, where there are many layers of approval, you can see how it would be difficult for procurement or travel departments to take the lead on this. Of course, the investment in implementing strategies to combat travel induced stress combined with the lack of tools to measure ROI for smarter travel policiesmay also deter some companies. Last but not the least is the role of employees, those actually traveling, to create the awareness which can be acted upon, towards the risks and impact business travel has on the individual. How many times in a recruitment process has the question been asked on travel policy? Without a doubt it has an impact on productivity, recruitment, retention and not only bottom line.

In the backdrop of increased spend on business travel, the impending need is for companies to make traveler well-being a priority. With 91% of travel managers acknowledging the high levels of stress when employees travel for work, more than half (57%) stated that they do suggest changes to their company to help improve traveler well-being and more often than not, companies do accept and implement these suggestions. This shows that there is a definite inclination towards improving traveler well-being. Such efforts need to be tackled more proactively and efficiently by an entire organization, supported from the top to result in healthier, company-wide travel policies.

Want to find out more? Download a copy of the whitepaper - Business traveler well-being: How to keep your employees healthy, happy and productive when they travel for work below.

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Business Travel, Traveler Experience