Avoiding Employee Burnout When Travelling For Business

By Brian Robertson

Seeing the world, meeting interesting people and acquiring new skills: these are just some of the perks of travelling for business. Although it can be a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience, frequent business travellers know that it can also be a tiring and demanding experience.

I spend around 50 per cent of my time travelling for business, so I understand that there are different demands placed on an employee on the road. In order to maximize time spent out of the office, business trips are often short and intense with very little personal time. Back-to-back meetings, managing emails during intermittent breaks, lengthy client dinners and potential jet-lag are all part of business travel.

The Global Business Travel Association of Canada estimates that Canadians made 33.3 million domestic business trips in the last year alone, meaning more and more employees are seeing travel as part of their job description.

As the COO of the largest Canadian corporate travel management company, I manage solutions for thousands of business travellers and have first-hand insight on the pressures business travel can present. Here are my recommendations for how you can help with avoid employee burn-out in business travel.

Provide Health and Wellbeing Support
Although safety and security is often top-of-mind as part of duty of care, an employee’s general health and wellbeing while on the road is also an important consideration; especially for those who are frequent travellers. Ensure the hotels booked have fitness amenities, healthy food options and are away from noisy roads and bars. Offer expert tips to help with jetlag and provide an international cell phone plan so employees can easily keep in touch with family. Being able to easily speak with loved-ones makes a huge difference to overall wellbeing and happiness while on the road.

Work With a Travel Advisor
Corporate travel advisors fully understand the unique requirements needed for business travel compared to a standard vacation. They know how to navigate complex travel arrangements and unexpected changes to keep a traveller’s schedule on-time and within budget; this eliminates stress and worry for all parties. They also have insider knowledge and first-hand experience that allows them to confidently recommend the most suitable hotel for your employee’s meetings, taking into consideration location, transportation options and amenities, as well as the most suitable flight options available. Since a travel advisor is highly connected within the industry, if a flight has been cancelled or delayed, they will take care of alternative arrangements and communicate them to the traveller without missing a beat.

Encourage Extending Business Trips for Leisure
For business trips that overlap a weekend, encourage employees to extend their trip to fully enjoy the destination. Getting to really explore and discover the world as part of a job further demonstrates the benefits travelling for business can provide. This opportunity will also help employees relax and rejuvenate following an intense work schedule and return to the office feeling more refreshed and energized.

Even if an extended trip may cost an employer slightly more, having an employee over-worked, over-tired and unhappy from lack of time with family is more likely to lead to a burnout, impacting their overall productivity at work and costing much more in the long-term. Companies should also ensure their lieu days policy is correctly communicated to employees who are travelling for business, to ensure suitable time is taken for them to recuperate following extensive and frequent travel.

Consider Premium Economy
Although frequent travellers will always prefer to fly Business Class, company budgets do not always stretch far enough to cover the costs. Premium Economy (versus standard Economy) is a great alternative. As an intermediate class of travel, Premium Economy is now offered with more and more airlines. It is a more cost-effective way to provide travelling employees with a comfortable method of travel, allowing them to feel more rested and prepared for the meetings ahead. On average, Premium Economy travellers will receive extra leg room, seat width, seat recline, more advanced inflight entertainment and often the same meal as business class travellers.

Team Communication
Ensure non-travelling staff are aware of who is travelling and encourage them to direct their emails and requests to others wherever possible. This will not only avoid reduced productivity for those waiting on a response from travelling employees who are unable to respond in a timely manner, but will also ensure the travellers aren’t overwhelmed with outstanding requests on their return.

As COO of Vision Travel Solutions, Brian Robertson is responsible for driving the largest travel management company in Canada. Under his leadership, Vision Travel has a carved a niche as the industry leader in corporate and luxury travel, through the marriage of good old-fashioned high-touch customer service, and ground-breaking high-tech solutions never before seen in Canada. Brian is a global travel industry insider, with a unique view on the trends and issues that shape the industry. He has contributed thought leadership pieces to various publications and regularly offers his perspective at industry conferences.

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