According to recent research, four in five business travellers will experience poor mental health and heightened stress, anxiety, exhaustion and loneliness during work trips.
It’s true that travelling can still be stressful due to the demands of work, unfamiliar environments, and the pressure to meet deadlines. These trips can be successful though, if there is plenty of careful planning and support provided by employers to minimise stress and maximise productivity.
With National Stress Awareness Day just around the corner, I discuss how businesses can make corporate travel less stressful for employees…
#1 Plan in advance
The foundation of a successful business trip is thorough itinerary planning. This includes scheduling meetings, arranging transportation, and booking accommodations for employees in advance to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Businesses should develop a schedule that factors in buffer time for unexpected delays. Providing your employees with additional time and a well-structured schedule can help alleviate stress and worry if things don’t go to plan.
Corporate travel coordinators will also need to be mindful of travelling between time zones. Jet lag can significantly hinder an employee’s performance. Careful planning of this often-overlooked facet of business travel will ensure employees have the time to rest and adjust to local time ahead of important meetings.
#2 Use a travel management company (TMC)
Consider using travel management platforms and apps to streamline the booking and expense tracking process. TMCs typically offer 24/7 support and assistance in case of travel disruptions or emergencies. Knowing that help is just a phone call away can reduce the stress associated with unexpected situations.
Some platforms will also include integrated expense-tracking features. Employees can easily log their expenses, such as meals and incidentals, during their trips, which are automatically recorded in the system. This not only reduces the administrative burden for both employees and organisations, but also ensures accurate and consistent expense reporting.
#3 Prioritise wellbeing in your travel policy
A clear travel policy, which outlines expectations, reimbursement procedures and guidelines for booking travel is essential.
But travel policies should go beyond making sure staff adhere to certain rules. Businesses have a responsibility to boost employee wellness where possible, particularly during stressful scenarios like travelling for business.
A TMC can assist here in helping companies create individual travel profiles to enhance workers’ travel experiences and optimise their performance. This could involve building unique, personalised plans, which encompass dietary requirements, fitness routines and even entertainment preferences.
Even small details like providing employees with an adequate budget for nutritious meals, and access to flat beds for quality sleep can go a long way in improving the physical and mental wellbeing of your workforce while travelling.
Companies may choose to recognise their ‘road warriors’ with bigger perks. Frequent business travellers are likely to bring in substantial business, so acknowledge their efforts with added benefits to boost morale and retain top talent.
This could mean implementing specialised policies for your ‘high mileage’ workers like upgraded accommodation or more flexible work arrangements to help balance work and travel demands.
#5 Take advantage of corporate rewards.
Encourage employees to join frequent flyer or hotel loyalty programmes, which can lead to perks like upgrades, lounge access and faster check-ins.
Employees can also simplify the travel experience by using mobile boarding passes to skip the lines at the ticket counter or enrol in programmes like Fast Track to expedite airport security screening.
These simple additions to an employee’s journey not only save time but also reduce the stress associated with long security lines and the potential risk of missing a flight due to delays.
#6 Enhance travel support with technology.
Embracing technology is essential for businesses looking to reduce stress among business travellers as it streamlines travel processes and enhances communication.
Many airports and hotels are introducing biometric authentication technology, like facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, which reduces waiting times during security and check-in processes.
AI is becoming more recognised for its potential to ease travel stress too. For example, AI-driven virtual assistants, are useful for providing real-time updates, suggesting travel options, and even rebooking flights in the event of cancellations. American Express, is already investing in Large Language Models (LLMs) to improve traveller care operations and answer questions efficiently.
While there are benefits to using AI in travel, it’s hard to say if it will ever fully replace the human touch. AI is not always accurate and can frequently provide incorrect answers. Additionally, the travel industry is dynamic, and there still needs to be a human level of understanding to navigate the differing priorities of suppliers, companies, and travellers.