July 24, 2019

How Corporate Travel Drives More Employee Engagement

The numbers have spoken: establishing a people-centric company culture is directly tied to better business results. Recent studies have shown that happy employees are up to 20% more productive, and a happy sales team sells 37% more. Notably, the stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” rose 14% per year over the last decade, compared to only 6% growth for companies not on that list.

Essentially, an investment in your employees’ happiness is an investment in your business’ success.

Why Corporate Travel Is a People Operation

A recent Boston Consulting Group survey showed that even beyond compensation, the biggest factors in employee satisfaction are things like being appreciated for good work, feeling like the company valued you as a person, and opportunities to learn and develop. One way to influence all three of these is through the impact of employee travel.

As our business traveler survey uncovered, employees who get the opportunity to travel for work report feeling more empowered, engaged, and energized in their jobs. On the flipside, however, road warriors can often feel stressed and unsupported when unforeseen problems arise on the road.

Since employees view their time on the road as time on the clock, for better or worse, everything that happens to them while traveling reflects your company’s culture. Your road warriors should therefore be able to count on the same people-centric experience they can expect in the office.

However, because of the hefty cost, business travel management often falls under the finance department; therefore, policies tend to focus more on spend than user experience. But there’s a very real case for seeing business travel as a priority for people teams, or at least factoring HR in as a stakeholder. (And if you’re not already convinced, consider that 39% of Millennials wouldn’t take a job that didn’t allow them to travel — business travel also has very real hiring and employee retention implications).

How can HR leverage your organization’s business travel program to improve employee satisfaction? Below, find a couple of tried-and-true ways to do exactly that:

Focus on Flexibility

Especially when traveling, people want to balance a sense of adventure with feeling comfortable and connected.

Particularly in an age when the lines between life and work as blurring, this means allowing your travelers to use ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft that they’re familiar with, verses forcing them to take a taxi or shuttle. And while some travelers prefer to stay in a preferred corporate hotel chain, others would rather choose an Airbnb or small boutique hotel.

To account for each individual’s personal preferences, it’s crucial to build plenty of choice and flexibility into your travel program. This will leave every one of your road warriors feeling empowered and trusted instead of constrained and over-managed.

Focus on Wellness

Wellness and self-care trends are gaining more steam by the day — and for good reason. As mentioned earlier, businesses are increasingly realizing that happy and healthy employees bring more value to the company, and that means also (maybe even especially) making sure they’re enabled to stay happy and healthy while on the road.

We can see wellness trends popping up across the travel industry — airlines are partnering with meditation apps, hotels are offering wellness packages, and airports around the world now offer nap lounges — and corporate travel programs are taking the trends into consideration as well.

It’s no secret that between the red eyes, jet lag, and back-to-back meetings, life on the road can be disruptive to a traveler’s health. Because of this, the more you help facilitate your travelers’ experience getting from Point A to Point B without stress or hassle, the happier your employees will be. This can be as simple as allowing a traveler to book an earlier flight, letting them use their gym membership benefits on the road, or providing easy-to-access channels to reach out for support at any time of day or night in case of a delay, cancellation, or other disruption.

The role of HR in business travel is an important one — it is people who are making those trips to grow the relationships that help grow your business, after all. By working with your travel or finance team to implement a program that puts your employees at the center, you’ll ensure your road warriors view business travel as a perk and not a pain.

Learn more about how business travel impacts employee happiness, health, and productivity by watching our on-demand webinar hosted by TripActions Chief People Officer Leslie Crowe, 6 Ways Business Travel Drives Employee Engagement.