Despite the era of teleconferencing and high-speed internet that we are living in, nothing can fully replace person-to-person interaction. Between salespeople and customers, between healthcare professionals and patients, between managers and other team members – there is no substitute to getting people in the same room with one another. In business, travel is just unavoidable. In many cases, traveling is even a fixture of the job description.
For employees, work travel can either be a burden or a benefit. Depending on the particulars of your corporate travel policy, people in your organization may see travel as a huge hassle on top of an already stressful job or as a vital component to fulfilling their responsibilities to the best of their ability. A bad travel policy can damage you in more ways than you think, but a good policy can be an asset, aiding in the creation of happier, more productive employees.
Making Lemonade Out of a Corporate Travel Policy
Finding and keeping qualified employees is hard work these days. We’re experiencing a time of historically low unemployment in the country which means the few candidates who are the best fit for the job are being snatched up fast. Now, add in that your open position requires significant business travel, and the list of qualified candidates who are interested shrinks even more. 36% of hiring managers report candidates asking to see the company’s travel policy during the interview process. If they don’t like what they see, they probably have other options.
With a little finessing, though, you can transform your travel policy into a tool for employee recruitment and retention rather than a drawback. Your corporate travel policy can be proof of your commitment to ensuring the quality of employment for your mobile workers. Travel, especially for some professions, can’t be done away with, but when life gives you lemons, there are a couple ways you can make lemonade.
Give Employees Flexibility
Everyone has a certain way of doing things, and that includes your employees. Traveling can already be such a hectic activity, whether it’s taking a detour because there’s a car accident along the route or toiling away hours waiting for a connecting flight that keeps getting delayed. Amongst all of this, employees want flexibility and some autonomy over their work travel. When your travel policy is too strict and uncompromising, employees aren’t given the freedom to arrange travel in a way they are most comfortable with.
Technology can be a real asset to facilitating ease and flexibility. Employees want tasks such as booking travel, reporting expenses and tracking trips to be simple, not buried under forms and a confusing approval process. Adopting web and mobile apps can help take the onus off of them to make sure they’ve followed the correct procedures and allow them to refocus their attention elsewhere. A point to remember here is that technology can cause just as much friction if mishandled. A clunky system is just as bad as an overbearing policy.
Ease Travel Worries
We all experience anxiety related to travel to some degree. It’s the job of your corporate travel policy to take employees’ worries into account and take steps to address them. There are countless causes for worry and anxiety that can arise while traveling, too many for you to possibly consider while crafting your corporate travel policy. A good rule of thumb is to simply ensure you’re always putting the employee first. If you’re always putting budgets and company convenience above safety and security, your employees won’t feel cared for or like their efforts are being respected. If someone breaks down on the way to visit a client, do you have a plan in place? What about if they miss their flight? These are scenarios you should consider in your policy.
Yes, we mentioned earlier that if your policy is too rigid, your employees may be frustrated with their lack of flexibility. However, if your travel policy is too vague, it can also become a source of frustration. Employees, whether they’re willing to admit it or not, appreciate structure in the workplace. Some of the most unhappy employees are those working within organizations with a weak policy library or no formal policies at all.
The goal for your organization is to find that sweet spot between having too many rules and guidelines and not enough. You need to make sure that your policy, while providing flexibility, isn’t so vague that your employees don’t know how to make sense of it. Nothing is more frustrating for employees than learning they accidentally violated your corporate travel policy in some way and now must pay for some component of business travel out-of-pocket.
Travel is a huge component of the job for many working professionals who need that invaluable face-to-face contact. For these employees, they are making a sacrifice to get their jobs done. They could be missing time with their families, racking up miles on their own vehicles or simply working to stave off burnout in their positions. Whatever the case, you should think about what you can do for these workers in your corporate travel policy.
Exactly how you reward your hardest working employees depends on many factors. You could take the time and energy to cultivate a robust reimbursement program, allow for more flexibility in work schedules and time off, award higher per diems on longer trips, let employees splurge occasionally on nicer accommodations – it’s up to your organization and budget.
Keep Employees, Gain Savings
If you’ve found that your corporate travel policy is affecting your ability to attract and keep the best employees for the job, it’s never too late to make a change. Even an adequate policy could benefit from an upgrade to make the lives of your workers less stressful. A key factor in employee satisfaction is an efficient, well-oiled reimbursement process. Whether employees are on the road or in the air, they don’t want to take money out of their own paycheck just to do their job – and you don’t want that, either.
Luckily, when it comes to your expense reimbursement process, technology can be a real ally. By adopting SureMileage from CompanyMileage, you can simplify and automate mileage tracking and expense reimbursement across the entire organization. Our unique approach utilizes point-to-point trip calculations to accurately and quickly determine how much your employees should receive in reimbursement payments. All an employee needs to do is catalog their locations throughout the day and submit their trips from their mobile phone.
Our system automatically moves expense reports through the approval process, saving all involved parties from the employee to accounts payable precious time and energy. Employees receive their reimbursement in a timely manner. You have a digital record of everybody’s trips, expenses and payments. CompanyMileage clients have saved 20-30% on reimbursement expenses after implementing SureMileage.
Show your employees how dedicated you are to ensuring their satisfaction. Request a demo with CompanyMileage today!