The Business Travel Magazine April/May 2019

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Traveller wellbeing

SOUL

purpose

How far should a company go to ensure the

wellbeing of its business travellers? Catherine

Chetwynd examines some of the latest measures

Gone are the days when companies

took the view that employees

who travelled a lot on business

accepted the job on that basis and they

could put up or shut up.

Now, traveller wellbeing is a serious

consideration that requires taking a holistic

view of the individual and is part of duty of

care. It is also a commercial imperative –

employees whose wellbeing is taken into

account perform better; in fact, Nuffield

Health reports that FTSE 100 companies that

monitor wellbeing outperform those who

don’t by more than 10%.

In an article entitled Mental health: a state of

wellbeing, the World Health Organization

defines the condition: “Health is a state of

complete physical, mental and social

wellbeing and not merely the absence of

disease or infirmity.”

Although a traveller’s health is ultimately

the responsibility of the individual, they need

to be equipped with the wherewithal to look

after themselves so that the stresses and

strains of corporate travel do not take their

toll. Such strains include disruption to

routine, difficulty sleeping, the crossing of

time zones and associated effects of jetlag,

too much alcohol and no exercise, eating

badly and being away from home, friends

and family. If staff are exhausted, ill, lonely,

stressed and/or unhappy, they can hardly

perform at their best, and that is before

looking at consequences that include

hypertension, obesity and heart disease, plus

mental health problems such as burnout.

All these things are highlighted in The

importance of business traveller wellbeing in

mitigating risk, written by Dr Lucy Rattrie for

Drum Cussac, which presents a compelling

argument for companies to care about

traveller wellbeing as part of a risk

management strategy.

But looking after travellers’ wellbeing is

difficult because it means different things to

different people and definitions vary within

companies as well. Someone with a strict

training regimen may want to stay in a hotel

with a first class gym, where someone else

may prefer the more sedentary ability to

stream entertainment on a device through

the TV in their room.

The requirements of a non-travelling

employee will differ from those of a road

warrior, and flexibility is key: “Even within

that, there are different types – a 22-year-old

travelling salesman, a 35-year-old traveller

mum and a 60-year-old whose kids have left

home,” says Lucy Rattrie. “Most important is

for the travel manager to ensure the support

they offer is tailored to travellers’ needs, so

individuals can choose from a menu.”

Often, small gestures go a long way and

offering a company subscription to a

meditation or mindfulness app might make

the difference between stressed out and

chilled out to some.

The cost is £4-£5 per month per employee

and the benefit to mental health will far

outweigh increasing the hotel rate cap by

£10-£20 per night,” says Head of UK Marketing

for Travel and Transport Statesman, Josh

Gunn, whose company has a wellbeing

council and champion, and promotes it

internally. “It is also important to evaluate

company culture and what will fit into that

when you incorporate wellbeing. If you do

something that does not fit, there is a risk it

will be seen as a token gesture,” he says.

Everything a traveller does has an impact

on their wellbeing:

planning a trip,

booking it, doing it

and returning

home, only to have

to catch up in the

office and with family

and friends.

“A better traveller experience

means greater engagement with

the traveller and ultimately greater

compliance, which is the driver to

achieving a corporate client’s goals of

savings, efficiency, productivity and visibility

for both duty of care and supplier leverage,”

says Vice President Traveller Care UK for

14 THEBUSINESSTRAVELMAG.COM

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