Businesses often neglect their travel policy, after all, if staff are managing to get from point A to B and back again, what’s the point, right? The point is travel is an enormous expense for many big companies, while for small companies every dollar spent has to be vital to its growth and survival. The world is such a rapidly changing place, that what was an appropriate rule last year may be completely inappropriate this year. And what is working now, may be out of date in 12 months time.
Costs, risk and business goals change regularly, especially for businesses that have a culture of embracing and growing through change, so it’s vital that travel policies evolve with both the business and the times. Whoever is responsible for the travel policy should be constantly asking themselves the following questions, and if the travel policy can’t answer them satisfactorily, it’s time for a change.
Is your business up to date with the latest technology?
If there’s one area that is developing faster than most, it’s technology. Gone are the days of cumbersome corporate travel planning with multiple people involved at every turn, reams of documentation to be filled out, and checks and balances performed across multiple platforms. Today, online platforms allow employees to plan their own trips using the company’s preferred travel suppliers, and approval is just a click away. Every detail is recorded before, during and after the trip, making life much easier for not only the employee, but also others involved in the process such as managers, human resource departments and Chief Financial Officers.
Does your policy stifle productivity?
It might sound like economic sense to limit flights to economy class at the cheapest times, but would a five-hour flight in business class be better for productivity? Who can get any work done with minimal legroom and a screaming child sitting next to you in economy class? Making it as comfortable as possible for those on the road, especially those who spend considerable time travelling for business, will encourage greater productivity by offering better working conditions.
Are your employees still safe when they travel?
The world has changed in recent times, and there are inherent risks when travelling, especially to international destinations. Technology has made it easier to keep track of where employees are at any given moment, but are your employees briefed well enough prior to departure about their destination? Does the policy outline what should be done in the event of an emergency, or who to contact if they need help? Is the travel policy easily accessible for employees while out of the office, and will it help them in the case of an emergency? With insurance and professional indemnity such high priorities for businesses these days, the travel policy must to be up to date.
Have you asked your employees if the policy needs updating?
While the employee in charge of the travel policy is sitting behind a desk, the employees who are doing the travelling are actually living it. So why not ask them what’s working, what’s broken, and what needs updating? These guys are on the frontline, so no one in the business has a better understanding of whether the travel policy is working or not. Offering the opportunity for employees to contribute to their own travel policy will empower them, provide them with a sense of belonging to the business, and make them feel like a valued employee who’s opinion counts. A happy employee is a far more productive employee, and that can only be good for the company in the long run.
Have you been getting asked a lot of questions about the travel policy lately?
If staff are coming to you with questions about the travel policy, there’s a good chance it needs updating. Travel policies should be easily read and understood, so if employees are asking questions because they don't understand, it needs updating. If they’re asking questions that don’t have answers in the travel policy, it needs updating. A Frequently Asked Questions section that is constantly updated might be a good way to answer questions that don’t easily slot into specific sections of the travel policy
A fluid, constantly evolving travel policy is the best way to ensure business travel is as economical, productive, safe and up-to-date as possible. When changes are made, involving employees when appropriate and educating them immediately is the best way to ensure travel policies are adhered to. After all, a travel policy that isn’t followed and enforced isn’t worth the ‘paper’ it’s written on.
For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below: