You've carefully shaped your organization's travel policies to create effective habits that fit the specific needs of your organization. Some employers allow employees to take extra days at their destination if they want to use vacation time. Others have set limits on what employees can spend while they're traveling or how they're allowed to access the funds they use when traveling. While your policies have been created with your business in mind, however, in some cases, your employees may not be able to work with them as well as you'd hoped. They follow the rules, but they don't necessarily like it, either. Are your employees buying into your travel policy? If you see these signs, they may be struggling with the way your organization handles travel.
Sign #1: There are No Volunteers for Travel
There's a big assignment coming up that's going to involve several days of travel. It's not an excessively long trip, nor is it to a location that employees would dread visiting, but when you ask for volunteers to take the meeting or handle the task, no one seems to want to go. In fact, it seems as though lately, you can't bribe your employees with enough incentives to convince them to travel cheerfully—and your productivity is taking a hit because of it.
While there will always be employees who struggle with travel more than others, if you're consistently fighting to get your employees to leave the office, chances are, there's something in your travel policy that's making their lives difficult. Take the time to talk with your employees to see what the obstacles to corporate travel really are. Is the travel budget too restrictive? Are there too many hoops to jump through. Understanding why employees are against travel will help you create a more effective policy that's more likely to work for everyone.
Sign #2: Employees are Taking on Personal Expenses While Traveling
Most employees aren't going to be eager to pay personally for expenses incurred while traveling. While they may be willing to pay out of pocket for splurge items—special meals or trips to local attractions, for example—they'll quickly become frustrated if required to pay for their own hotel rooms, gas or plane tickets, and other travel-related expenses. Take a look at the expense reports when your employees have been traveling.
If big-ticket items are missing, or even a lot of little expenses, it's a sign that the reimbursement process is too difficult or that you need to use different suppliers. If travelers are taking on personal expenses, it may be because they're unwilling to use your suppliers—usually with good reason. Ask:
Are the chosen suppliers providing reasonable service, or are there other suppliers who provide better—enough that employees would rather pay for it themselves?
What benefits are there to using alternative suppliers?
Are other suppliers more expensive, or are costs increasing with your chosen suppliers? Have you discussed these concerns with management?
Sign #3: Surveys are Short on Information
You want to know how your employees are faring when they travel outside the office so that you can adapt your travel policy according to their needs. You've been sending out surveys or asking questions, but the information coming back is a little on the short side. Even if it's not overwhelmingly negative, a lack of commentary is a solid sign that there are problems with your policy. Take the time to ask more detailed questions—in person, if necessary—and get real responses from your employees. You may discover that your travel policy needs more work than you thought.
Sign #4: Employees Routinely Blow the Travel Budget
If your employees are routinely blowing your travel budget, there's a reason for it—and it's usually one of three things. First, your travel budget is too restrictive. It's not allowing employees to take care of the things that they need to take care of. Second, employees don't care about the budget and know that there won't be personal repercussions if they don't meet it. Finally, employees who are blowing the travel budget might not realize that there is one or what the policy is for spending, and that means it's no more effective than not having one at all. Take a look at your budget and see how employees are meeting, or not meeting, it. What expenses are running too high? A quick look at this simple question can help transform your travel policy to make it more effective for your employees.
Sign #5: Your Policy is Difficult to Understand
Your travel policy is more convoluted than the contracts you write with your customers. It's difficult to follow, complex, and spells out all the details anyone could ever consider when they're traveling. In fact, half the time, you don't understand your policy! If this sounds all too familiar, it's clear that it's time to reconstruct your travel policy. A strong policy doesn't have to be overly complicated. In fact, a clear, simple policy is often easier on both you and your employees.
Sign #6: You Have High Turnover in High Travel Positions
Keeping members of the team is important to your business, but the way things are going, it looks like you're never going to achieve it. If you're struggling to keep employees in high travel positions, either they're traveling too often compared to others in your field, or they're having issues with your corporate travel policy. Take a close look at what it is about your corporate travel policies that's frustrating your employees—and make sure you can correct it.
If your corporate travel policy isn't meeting the needs of your employees, chances are, it isn't meeting the needs of your business. Working with a great travel management company can help streamline the travel process, including:
Decreasing the amount of time that employees have to spend making travel arrangements, freeing them up for more important tasks each day
Providing employees with safe, comfortable travel arrangements with companies that are known for the quality of their service
Ensuring that your company receives the best discounts and benefits available with travel chains in the area you've chosen
Smoothing out the travel process and working with you to develop a travel policy that is designed to meet the needs of both your business and your employees
Sign #7: Employees are Booking Offline—or Wherever They Choose
If employees are booking offline and through their own providers, rather than taking advantage of online searches and discounts, there are several key questions to ask. Consider:
What's the cost difference? If it's a significant difference, there may be good reasons why your employees are choosing to look elsewhere.
Is employee travel spending tracked? How is it tracked when they go outside the policy?
Has the travel management company compared the deals employees are getting with the ones they offer?
Are there points benefits that you might not be aware of thanks to the company program?
Is there a poor service problem with your travel management company? Have you addressed that issue with them?
What's "easier" about employees' current methods?
Your travel policy can make life easier for your employees, or it can leave them frustrated and disinterested in travel. If you're ready to start making a difference in your travel arrangements, contact us to learn how we can help you make the most of your employee travel policies.