In the modern era of corporate travel, companies are investing heavily in ensuring the well-being of their employees on the move.
From ergonomic travel tools to nutritious meals on the go, the focus has shifted from merely reaching a destination to ensuring the holistic well-being of the traveller.
Though wellness initiatives in the realm of business travel started as genuine efforts to ensure the health and happiness of employees, there’s growing concern that the pendulum might be swinging too far in the direction of overindulgence.
According to Bonnie Smith, GM of FCM Travel Solutions , while it is essential to prioritise the well-being of employees, there must be a balance.
“It’s about ensuring comfort without compromising the essence of work,” said Smith.
She said for business travel, the balance becomes even more critical as two in five business travellers rate the trip itself as the most stressful part of their journey.
“Companies must ensure that the wellness initiatives they introduce for their travelling employees are not just perks but tools that reduce stressors and genuinely enhance the travel experience, ensuring better productivity and well-being.
“This is why ‘traveller friction’ – the term used to describe the stress of frequent travel – is the talk of travel managers,“ said Smith.
Here are nine ways a business can reap the benefits of business travel without compromising an employees wellness, according to the GM.
Allow employees a window of flexibility in their travel schedules. The white paper on business travel and wellness suggests allowing a 24-hour window for employees to choose their departure and return.
For instance, an employee might choose a daytime flight to avoid arriving disoriented at night.
Ensure comfortable stays that meet specific criteria. Noisy accommodation is always a no-no; check with your travellers and conduct regular audits.
Prioritise accommodation with gyms, wellness centres, and nutritious meal options. Making sure your employees know where to hit the treadmill (if that keeps them sane), even in Timbuktu, will go a long way.
Mental health support
Providing access to mental well-being apps and resources is especially crucial for those dealing with the stresses of travel.
It’s all about personalisation
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to wellness and well-being. Neither is there for a business trip. It starts with knowing your employees.
One may want to know where they can hit the treadmill to work off the jet lag, while another may simply need a later start to the next day’s meeting.
Mental health is number one
Consider recommending mental well-being apps offering quick relaxation techniques or counselling. A manager feeling overwhelmed during an overseas conference can quickly access a 10-minute guided relaxation session.
The right carry-on
Ensure your travellers have items like ergonomic neck pillows and laptop stands.
Breaks between trips
Ensure there are sufficient breaks between trips. If an employee travels for more than five consecutive days, they get a minimum two-day break before the next trip.
Adopt a “Business+Leisure Balance” clause. For every three business days travelled, allow half a day for leisure.
Smith said that in the realm of business travel, wellness is not about luxury, but creating an environment where employees can perform at their best, even when they’re miles away from home.
“Business travel, at its heart, is about achieving objectives. As we introduce wellness initiatives, we must ensure they serve this core purpose, enhancing the journey without overshadowing the destination,” said Smith.