The Rising Dark Side Of Business Travel CEOs Need To Pay Attention To

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The business landscape has rapidly changed since the pandemic, with remote work and hybrid models becoming more prominent. Despite these workforce shifts, one aspect remains constant: business travel.

Business travel is back in full force following an expected dip during the pandemic. Corporate travel budgets are returning to pre-pandemic levels, and more companies are planning budget expansions. A Morgan Stanley survey revealed that over two-thirds of companies with under $1 billion in annual revenue anticipated increased travel budgets in the coming year.

The Impact of Frequently Flying

Frequent travel can significantly impact an individual’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. While companies prioritize conventional risk management areas, they often overlook the personal well-being of their travelers. From maintaining a healthy diet to proper sleep and various emotional components such as loneliness and separation, business travelers encounter numerous potential long-term health disruptions that non-traveling employees don’t face.

Business travelers had higher claims than non-travelers for all health conditions across the board, along with a higher likelihood of stress-related disorders, as reported in the Harvard Business Review. Lastly, as shared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, frequent business travel adversely affects overall body composition, leading to risks of obesity and various other ailments if left unmanaged, such as heart disease and diabetes.

More and more companies are prioritizing workplace wellness due to factors such as obesity’s $400 billion impact on companies. Corporate travel wellness programs are a necessary part of the equation as well. As you look to implement a modern and more robust travel wellness program, start with these two areas:

Embrace Bleisure Travel

When attracting and retaining the best people, more and more employees choose lifestyle over salary. It’s not out of laziness. It’s out of a desire for work-life integration. With this in mind, organizations can embrace employees’ desires through bleisure. Organizations can promote work-life integration and rejuvenation by allowing employees to combine business trips with leisure activities.

Implementing flexible travel policies that enable team members to extend their trips on the back end is a way to improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention rates. Research shows that 89% of business travelers wanted to add a private holiday to their business trips. Traveling for work is energetically demanding, physically and mentally. A few extra days for leisure allow team members to process their trip, recharge, and return at total capacity.

Treat Your Employees Like Athletes

Just as professional athletes require careful management of their physical, emotional, and mental well-being, so do business travelers. Business travel is a stressor with a high burnout rate and decreased performance across the board. As you revamp your corporate wellness travel program, consider your approach to business travel as a sports team thinks of traveling to play an away game.

As you prepare the company playbook for healthier and more productive business traveling, consider the following:

  • Providing support for handling jet lag
  • Offering advice on maintaining healthy sleep and nutritional habits away from home
  • Investing in business class and non-stop flights
  • Providing hotels that have conducive amenities for optimal well-being
  • Ensuring team members reside in centrally located hotels or apartment hotels

Business travel isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, as the average business traveler takes roughly 6.8 trips per year, with business travel in the U.S. from domestic and international travelers also accounting for $387 billion in annual revenue, according to research shared over at Zippia. Incorporating travel wellness initiatives isn’t merely an expense; it’s an investment in employees’ health and performance.

As organizations revamp their corporate travel programs, prioritizing their travelers’ well-being is paramount. By implementing strategies to support travel wellness, companies can ensure that their employees remain healthy, engaged, and effective representatives of their companies.

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