By Brent Blake, President, Acendas Travel
With a low unemployment rate and a growing economy, the challenge to attract and retain quality workers is getting more difficult by the day.
So, it would behoove leaders to evaluate those “onerous” systems and processes that might hinder hiring practices. As a travel management company, we hear the horror stories from workers as they travel to conduct business. In fact, a main reason companies turn to us is because of the negative feedback they get from their team members when traveling. I am not at all surprised to see that an Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) study found that one-third of companies report job candidates want to see travel policies before signing on the dotted line.
A significant aspect of our work is to help companies develop travel policies that support a positive and productive work environment. It should be noted that a “worker-friendly” travel policy does not have to equate with spending more money. By listening to a company’s needs, we can address issues in a feasible manner. However, it would be a huge mistake to be penny-wise and pound-foolish by eschewing a better policy because of a slightly higher expense. The policy should be viewed as an investment in building and retaining a quality workforce.
The following strategies should be considered in creating a travel policy that fosters a positive work environment:
- Reducing excessive layovers in exchange for reduced non-stop flights. We recommend expanding that window to allow travelers to book a non-stop flight.
- Switching from the lower tier hotels (third tier) to a higher tier. Going from a third tier (motel feel) to a second-tier property can make a significant difference in traveler’s comfort
- Looking at overall program savings vs. efficiencies.
Cost is still a driving focus for corporate travel management. However, I have seen a push for HR to be touching the travel policy more, but not driving it. HR can soften the travel policy and strive to make it more employee friendly. New employees or recruits are now seeing a more traveler friendly policy than in the past.
Consider the plight of “road warriors” who often face long layovers, less than optimal housing options and lack of support that is not only frustrating, but also stressful. We know that the value placed on the quality of work-life balance is growing in importance among generations below the “Baby Boomer” cohort. Team members will quickly seek better opportunities if a policy results in what we call “friction.” There have been many technology advancements to assist road warriors including the Acendas Connect app and other supplier apps (airlines and hotels). In addition, sharing economy suppliers (Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb) are increasing, which helps make travel dollars go further.
There is new trend known as “ecosystem alignment” that includes emerging technology whereby airline, car and hotel reservation systems will be able to talk to each other. For instance, if a flight is delayed, this technology will communicate to the rental car supplier that the traveler is late, or it will let the hotel property know that traveler was delayed. This development is a positive move to align with traveler’s desires to spend less ineffective time on the road and have a better work/life balance.
The bottom line is companies and their travelers do not have to accept that pain is a natural companion of traveling. Those corporations that seek to improve the travel experience are more likely to benefit from positive results in other areas of operations.
Joe Curtis, Senior Vice President at Acendas and I recently discussed the travel policy and retention topic as part of our Acendas Viewpoints vlog. Click here or on the image below to view our travel policy vlog.