Does your company impose harsh restrictions on your travel bookings and spending in the interest of saving money? A new study suggests that approach could be costing more than it saves.
The stresses imposed on road warriors by strict company travel policies can result in employees who are disgruntled, less productive, less healthy, and more inclined to seek employment elsewhere according to a new report from the Airlines Reporting Corporation, which processes ticket payments from travel agencies.
The survey of 750 business travelers contrasted the experience of working for companies with “cost-focused” travel policies vs. those with “traveler-focused” programs – i.e., policies aimed at keeping travelers productive and satisfied.
Concentrating on strict cost controls often results in what the report calls ‘travel friction” – i.e., needless frustrations and aggravations on the road that contribute to less effective business results. Examples: requiring travelers to book a less expensive connecting flight when non-stops are available; prohibiting business class bookings on long-haul flights; and limiting hotel choices.
For example, 82 percent of the travelers in cost-focused programs said they sleep much better at home than on the road; only 53 percent of those with traveler-focused programs said so. Likewise, three-fourths of cost-focused travelers said it’s hard for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when traveling, vs. just 32 percent in the traveler-focused group. Two-thirds of the cost-focused travelers said they sometimes get sick or need time off due to their heavy travel schedules; the comparable rate for traveler-focused programs was just 29 percent.
Asked what portion of their trips they considered to be worthwhile from a business standpoint, those in traveler-focused programs cited 82 percent, on average, vs. 60 percent for those in cost-focused programs.
Perhaps most tellingly, three-fourths of the cost-focused travelers said they hoped to be traveling less two years from now; only 35 percent of those in traveler-focused programs said the same.
The report suggested that the biggest drawback of focusing on strict cost controls for travelers is that it can motivate some of a company’s most valuable employees to leave – and replacing them can be extremely expensive.
“Designing a traveler-focused travel program can help companies retain top talent, especially in sales, account management and technical positions with valuable relationships and specialized areas of knowledge,” the report said. “As an added benefit, it also makes the company far more attractive to potential employees.”
The survey asked travelers in both groups what kinds of changes in policy would make their trips easier to take. Here are the results:
Readers: Do you work for a company with a travel policy that is cost focused, or traveler focused? Love it or hate it? Please leave your comments below.