Each year more employees are traveling for business. This means each year, it becomes more vital for every business to have an employee travel policy in place. In 2019, almost 480 million people are expected to travel in the US for work, and by 2022 that number grows to nearly 500 million employees.
It’s difficult to know for sure how many businesses in the US have a travel policy in place. One survey by PhoCusWright found that only 30% of US businesses had any kind of managed travel policy, but this survey was conducted in 2012. We expect that number to have grown, but it’s hard to say by how much. A 2017 survey from Amadeus found that more than 60% of employees don’t even understand the reason and benefits of a travel policy in the first place. It’s clear that both businesses and employees are unaware of the importance of having a policy for travel in place. Until all parties can see the need, travel policies will continue to be outdated, inadequate or entirely nonexistent.
The Benefits of an Employee Travel Policy
A travel policy is intended as a guide for your employees, directing them on how much they can spend, what they can spend on and how they can be reimbursed for their T&E (travel and entertainment) expenses. Taking the time to create the right policy for your business will yield these four major benefits.
1. Lowers Costs for Employers
First, let’s look at how developing an employee travel policy can impact businesses. In almost any circumstance, it’s better to have a policy in place for your employees. Why? Policy directs behavior. Creating a clear employee travel policy lays out clear rules regarding what expenses are covered during travel as well as the proper method for reporting expenses.
After payroll, T&E expenses are the largest expenditure for employers. Therefore, it pays to manage them responsibly, and this also means managing the employee experience while traveling. Anything from booking with preferred airlines, logging mileage while on the road and saving itemized receipts are important rules to give guidance on for your employees.
By having a clear policy in place, you can also reduce the occurrence of fraudulent activity or inaccurate reporting. A lot of mistakes can happen during expense reporting without clear guidelines in place. Employees may estimate their expenses, round up their mileage, fail to provide an itemized receipt or simply lie because they know there is no proper system in place to verify reimbursements.
2. Establishes Clear Procedures
Speaking of having a proper system in place to verify reimbursements, establishing clear procedures is a central element of any employee travel policy. Whether they love it or hate it, all employees can agree that business travel is at least a little stressful regardless of if it’s in a plane or their personal vehicles. A key way to make the entire experience more enjoyable – from planning the trip to post-trip expense reporting – is to give your employees clarity.
For employees, it can be incredibly frustrating to discover there are not clear procedures outlining appropriate business travel for your business. Even if you believe that your business’s rules regarding travel are common knowledge, you should still create a policy that clearly states them.
Establishing clear procedures benefits everybody. Employees will have a better understanding of what they need to do to ensure travel expenses are covered and employers will be able to establish systems that allow them to better manage T&E expenses.
3. Improves Employee Safety
If you’re a business that always has its employees traveling for their jobs, I’m sure the issue of employee safety crosses your mind frequently. Your travel policy can help you address some of the risks that traveling for work creates as well as better ensure your employees’ safety.
In order to properly keep your employees safe, you need to know where they are. A policy with clear processes in place will be able to direct your employees through the process of business travel so that you are also kept up to date on their whereabouts. On trips, instituting a policy of submitting their route or itinerary and having regular check-ins gives them accountability while also giving you peace of mind that their travel is going well. You also have the opportunity to clearly dictate emergency protocols in your employee travel policy. A thorough policy should include contact information for emergency situations, such as having to call a tow truck. If your employees are traveling for their jobs, a solid, updated travel policy will make sure that they are safe and accounted for.
4. Cultivates Employee Satisfaction
Many employees don’t realize how helpful a travel policy can be to their own travel experience. Policies can be designed to address a lot of different areas depending on what your business requires, but in general a policy should help employees receive travel reimbursements faster and make the expense approval process move along much more easily. If your employee travel policy can accomplish at least these two items, you’ll see a company-wide increase in satisfaction.
How do you ensure these two goals are met? Make sure you have the technology to back up your travel policy. New technology and software have made it much easier to track travel expenses on the go, easily submit expense reports and quickly have them approved with the help of automation. If your travel policy includes manual processes, you’re doing your employees and your company a disservice. Manual expense management is expensive, time-consuming and difficult to adequately track. By updating your policy to include modern technology solutions, you’re meeting your employees where it’s most convenient and accessible.
Is Your Travel Policy Up-to-date?
You’ve seen the importance of having an employee travel policy in place at your company, but it’s not enough to just have any policy in place. If your policy is not comprehensive, modern and up-to-date, your company and your employees could still be missing out on these benefits.
One thing you should definitely be updating your travel policy for – if you haven’t already – is the adoption of modern software and technology. At CompanyMileage, our expense tracking software, SureMileage (and its accompanying mobile app, SureMobile) offer you a modern solution to track employee travel, quickly report expenses and automate the reimbursement process.
Instead of verifying the miles employees travel, SureMileage provides a point-to-point calculation for each trip. Once the starting and ending destinations have been entered, the software calculates the most direct route, ensuring your company is not liable for any side-trips or unauthorized travel. SureExpense also allows employees to submit receipts while out in the field travelling, and SureMobile gives them a convenient way to submit expense reports remotely.
If your policy is not updated to include a modern, automated solution such as SureMileage, your policy is not supporting your business like it could be. To learn more about our software and how it can benefit your traveling employees, request a demo with us today!