Learn what “bleisure”, booking and other employee travel options can strengthen engagement

leio-mclaren-leiomclaren-300912-unsplash-1 - Talent IntelligenceWork trips are a necessary part of some employees’ jobs — more than half of U.K., U.S., Australian and Canadian employees find they’re traveling for work three to five times a year, according to a 2017 survey from tech provider Chrome River.

Roughly 10 percent of American and Australian employees, in addition to 12 percent of U.K. workers, take 11 to 20 trips a year.

Whether employees are hopping on a plane every week or attending a few annual client meetings and conferences, the company travel policy an employer offers can have a marked effect on workers’ productivity and outlook — and, in turn, help influence retention.

A survey from the Sabre Corporation and the Global Business Travel Association found more than three-quarters of workers say the employee travel experience impacts their overall job satisfaction; 84 percent of workers say the quality of their work-related travel has an influence on their business results.

Given the survey found nearly three in five employees view a company travel policy as an important consideration when assessing a new job, a favorable business travel program may also be able to help employers recruit sought-after candidates.

With global business travel spending expected to increase through 2022, according to a GBTA report, plenty of employees will likely be trekking to distant cities, states and countries this year.

Is your organization prepared to offer some — or all — of the following work-related travel experience elements employees and potential job candidates want?

Flexible employee travel options

Employers may urge workers to choose the cheapest airfare and hotel. However, given that an Egencia survey found employees value convenient travel times, hotel location and direct flights — all of which allow them to show up to work events well-rested — more than any other aspect of business travel, companies may want to consider relaxing some of their price constraints.

Covering the cost of other conveniences, such as TSA PreCheck or another program that helps expedite the security process at U.S. airports, may also make work trips more enjoyable for a number of employees. Being able to easily pass through security is one of employees’ top work-related travel concerns, according to a survey involving business travel agents conducted by Travel Leaders Group.

Airline points — and other perks

While frequent flier miles can be an attractive amenity, other types of employee travel rewards — including hotel loyalty programs — can be just as appealing.

When traveling for work, employees consider an average of three hotels before booking; and 82 percent say hotel loyalty programs factor into their decision, according to Global Business Travel Association findings. In addition to giving employees the chance to earn free nights and other extras they can use when vacationing, employers may find encouraging employees who are traveling for work to stay in venues with a hotel loyalty program may provide a cost savings in the future. Forty-nine percent of workers say they prefer to receive travel rewards they can later use on business trips, instead of personal ones.

Employers may also benefit from creating their own employee travel rewards program. Seventy-three percent of employees who participated in a survey conducted by global travel management company Travizon said they’d be interested in playing a gamified version of travel booking that provided points and prizes for choosing their company’s preferred airline, hotel and other employee travel options.

A stress-free schedule

Ongoing travel needs can leave employees burned out; companies may need to sweeten the deal to get workers enthused about going on more trips.

While C-level professionals cite upscale arrangements as their biggest travel incentive, managers and employees rate being able to successfully put their work on hold for a few days as the biggest encouragement, according to Travizon. Establishing a system of back-up employees to handle assignments when people are out of the office and ensuring frequent travelers aren’t being given too heavy a workload may help them be able to focus on future trips.

The ability to mix business and pleasure

Allowing employees to add a personal component to business trips can help them reduce vacation-related airfare costs — providing a potentially beneficial service. Employees seem to agree: The amount of trips that combined business and leisure elements, dubbed bleisure travel, increased by 20 percent from 2016 to 2017, totaling more than 2.2 million bleisure trips, or 10 percent of all work trips taken around the globe, according to SAP Concur travel and expense data.

For employees to feel comfortable taking advantage of company travel policy bleisure options, though, they need to receive full managerial support. A 2018 Egencia study found 20 percent of workers have foregone adding personal time to their trip because of how it may look to their employer.

Employers who are concerned bleisure travel will cut into employee availability may find it doesn’t have a huge effect. Allowing staff members to tack extra time onto a business trip shouldn’t mean they’re out of the office for too long — a GBTA survey found only a quarter of employees, when traveling for work, extend their trip for more than three days.

For additional information on employee amenities that can help your organization boost engagement, job satisfaction and retention, view our blog posts on 10 inexpensive ways to improve your employee value proposition and what employees want that you’re not providing — and find out how to determine if the salary and benefits you offer measure up to other employers’ total compensation packages in our post on sizing up the talent competition.