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How to prioritize traveler well-being

March 22, 2019 / US

Travelers may not be forthcoming about their personal needs while on a work trip.

When your travelers pack their bags for a trip, they’re focused on delivering a great presentation or developing new contacts at a conference. However, travelers are also balancing something else that they rarely discuss with their managers: their own well-being while on the road.

Recent research by Uber’s internal user experience research (UXR) team discovered that travelers not only acknowledge the need to maintain their regular healthy habits while on the road—whether that’s squeezing in a morning workout or eating a nutritious dinner—but also tend to deprioritize those needs in favor of getting the job done.

How can a travel manager ensure that these personal needs are met while achieving the ideal business outcome? In this blog post, we’ll discuss why prioritizing traveler well-being is good for your organization as a whole, and we’ll offer some basic tips that can be built right into the company travel and expense (T&E) policy.

Why traveler well-being has a company-wide impact

There’s a well-documented connection between employee health and travel. A recent Harvard Business Review investigation discovered that traveling for work can have a negative impact on health, with frequent travel contributing to a number of chronic conditions such as sleeping problems and anxiety. That’s not to mention time zone adjustments, catching a cough on the plane, experiencing fluctuating weather patterns, or any number of uncontrollable factors that can affect a traveler’s health.

Good performance and personal well-being are tightly intertwined, with the latter directly affecting a traveler’s decision-making process. In fact, 44% of those surveyed by the UXR team shared that stress-free travel is a priority for them. That’s because travelers know that they don’t perform at their best when feeling off their game.

Yet travelers hesitate to say that their personal well-being is a priority, the UXR team found. Instead, travelers framed their concerns in terms of impact on performance. If traveler well-being has such an impact on the end result of a work trip, it’s important, then, that travel managers incorporate best practices that can help travelers preserve their health while traveling.

4 steps you can take to improve traveler well-being

While it’s not possible to predict every bump in the road, travel managers can make changes directly to the T&E policy that are designed to improve traveler well-being.

  1. Allow for ample travel time. A day trip may sound efficient from the company’s perspective, but cramming so much activity into a single day can wear travelers ragged. When possible, allow them to go the day before and come home the morning after. This way, travelers have breathing room in their schedules, with ample time for good nutrition and rest.
  2. Plan for traveler efficiency first and foremost. Transferring flights or relying on public transportation in a new city can increase the possibility that a traveler arrives late or misses the purpose of the trip altogether. Planning for frictionless ways to get from point A to point B minimizes opportunities for a trip to go awry.
  3. Use familiar brands and tools. It may seem unnecessary to know which airlines give away good snacks or which hotels provide coffee makers, but knowing these details can go a long way. Returning to tried-and-true brands skips the learning curve and helps travelers better prepare for what to expect, simplifying the travel process and alleviating some stressors.
  4. Enable employees to take bleisure time. The thought of going to a new place can certainly be exciting for a traveler. Allowing flexibility to explore gives travelers something to look forward to once work is done, helping to maintain positivity even when faced with stressful factors out of their control.

Summing up

Traveler well-being and work performance aren’t just connected, they depend on each other. Travelers who feel run-down, stressed, tired, or hungry can find themselves losing focus, which distracts from their business goals. Work performance isn’t just about showing up, after all—it’s about showing up alert, attentive, and ready to excel at the task at hand.

To learn more about what’s going on inside the mind of a business traveler, download our research report.

Download the report