To most people, travelling the world for work, getting a chance to experience new places and cultures on an all-expenses-paid trip seems like a glamorous job. However, as many will know, business travel can cause a lot of stress – and not just when it comes to the most obvious factors from travel planning to making the expenses claims related to your trip.
Employees and managers are in fact becoming increasingly concerned about a growing issue when it comes to corporate travel booking and planning – safety. With political unrest, environmental disasters and global health incidents occurring in some form or another in major cities across the globe, it’s not surprising that employee anxiety is growing when it comes to spending a lot of time in unfamiliar places for business travel.
As Scott Gillespie, VP of Innovation and Analytics at Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) shared, “Nearly a quarter of U.S. road warriors are at significant risk for anxiety or depression. Given the uncertainties inherent to business travel, be it staying in an unfamiliar hotel, or travelling to a potentially unsafe destination, corporate travellers really do appreciate the efforts their companies make to help them feel safe and supported.”
However, your employees shouldn’t have to manage the anxieties that come with business travel alone. When your business requires its people to travel for work, they must ensure employee safety every step of the way.
How can you protect your travelling employees from their worst fears?
The Travel Risk Management Council found that corporate travellers were at risk of being affected most by the following factors: security threats (68%), civil unrest (52%), geopolitical unrest (52%) and natural disasters (51%).
Although these threats will always exist, there are some easily actionable strategies that can help ease any anxiety your employees might experience:
Consolidate all elements of travel planning onto a single platform
Hotel reserved? Check. Ground transportation booked? Check. Does your employee have their key documents? A copy of their itinerary in place? Check, check and check.
Corporate travel booking technology will not only help you and your employees to arrange the relevant documents they need for their travel, but it also enables them to access these from one single place for when they’re on the move. This means that once your business travellers are on their business trip, they don’t have to worry about their travel planning and can remain focused on why they’re there in the first place; for their work. Simply knowing that they only have to open one app can do wonders to ease any anxious thoughts about where to find flight check-in details, reservation numbers and so on.
Break down the language barrier
Travelling to a new country or region can cause your employees a number of anxieties when travel planning, especially when they’re faced with the prospect of making their way through a place where they don’t speak the same language. While we live in a global world, with global tech such as Google Maps, we still don’t have a common language and or common pronunciation.
One way employees can reduce fear over the risk of experiencing a language barrier during business travel is by making sure they have the spelling and pronunciation of place names in the local language.
Advanced corporate travel booking technology allows your employees to capture this information at the ‘manage booking’ function. Accessing information needed to get around during their travels such as names or addresses of accommodation is critical whilst on-the-go via mobile, meaning the stress is removed from previous ways of working that involved keeping track of paper documents.
Automate expense management to protect financial wellness
Research by Barclays has shown that 1 in every 10 employees is silently struggling financially and this not only impacts their overall wellbeing but in turn 80% of employers reveal that this lowers their workforce’s productivity and performance levels.
Between work stress, safety concerns, hectic travel and a general fear that something may go wrong, the last thing that your employees need is anxiety about their escalating personal finances. For those companies without a corporate card programme, individuals are incurring spend as an act of goodwill – they are effectively a credit line for the company. So when in addition to this, employees have a poor expense submission process to contend with, it only heightens frustration and stress.
Companies can combat this by adopting automated expense management technology that makes expense claims painless and transparent for employees and streamlines approvals without compromising compliance. Expense submission takes seconds for the employee incurring the spend and is done on the go with no need to revisit the claim ever again.
Don’t just document duty of care, demonstrate it with real-time data
It’s obvious that businesses need clearly defined policies that dictate precisely what an employee should do in the event of an emergency or disaster. They should know who to call, what to communicate, how quickly they’ll be responded to and what potential actions will be taken to remove them from hazardous situations. Yet, only 50% of businesses have an existing duty of care policy, and many employees report not knowing the details of this. Much more is needed than simply a “policy”.
David Axson, Global Lead of CFO Strategies at Accenture Strategies, acknowledges that “there will always be danger everywhere…but awareness and actionable insight into such hazardous situations can still protect the traveller experience.” So what should companies be doing above and beyond existing policies to ensure a safer and more enjoyable travel experience for employees?
The first thing is understanding the location of travelling employees in real-time – and crucially, at the click of a button. The newer breed of corporate travel booking systems are able to immediately locate where all travelling employees are – whether by a report, dashboard or map.
Secondly, these emerging technologies enable those responsible for duty of care (DoC) to provide timely status updates around delays or emergencies and monitor potential hazards – all to address the growing safety concerns of employees. Regardless of how infrequently disasters may occur, they should be planned for, giving your employees peace of mind in the meantime.