From unexpected travel delays to the challenges of navigating an unfamiliar city, business travel can bring a lot of unexpected stress. Amplified by jet lag and insomnia, stress can cause many travel executives to neglect basic health and tackle important business meetings and conferences fuelled by nothing but three hours of haphazard sleep and loads of caffeine.
Looking for inspiration to create a business travel health and wellbeing program? This article explores why corporate travel health and wellbeing programs are important and the simple steps your business can take to support your employees’ wellbeing on the road.
Why health and wellbeing programs for travelling executives are worth the investment
Is business travel linked to obesity and poor health?
Numerous research studies — including research by Columbia University and Harvard Business Review — have drawn a strong correlation between frequent business travel and poor health, including obesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
According to the Harvard Business Review, more than 70 percent of business travellers report succumbing to unhealthy lifestyle habits such as poor food choices, lack of exercise and experiencing higher levels of stress while on the move — all of which can damage both job performance and long-term health. In the long term, frequent business travelling can accelerate ageing and contribute to the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
What’s the link between mental health and business travel?
Business travel is connected to a higher instance of mental health issues in employees, including depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality, and even alcohol dependence.
This trickles down to immediate costs for a business, namely reduced employee productivity, performance and absenteeism.
Why make wellness a company priority?
Creating a mindful, health-centric travel policy delivers huge ROI in terms of your employees’ productivity and wellbeing. Spending on health and wellbeing programs for travelling employees will not only increase your employees’ health and satisfaction with their role, but strengthen employee retention, help your business attract top tier talent, and support the long-term success of your company.
Creating a corporate travel health and wellbeing program
A corporate travel and wellbeing program should include comprehensive policies around healthy flying, eating right on the road, exercise, increasing energy, sleep, stress management, self-care and how to strengthen your immune system while travelling. Here are some ideas for building your company’s travel health and wellbeing program:
Make it easy to choose healthy while on the road
Sticking with a work-out schedule and healthy food choices can be challenging amidst jet lag, a hectic schedule and adapting to a new time zone. Look for ways to simplify healthy choices for travelling executives by providing them with a helpful list of recommended amenities, including:
- Restaurants with healthy menus
- Accommodation with well-equipped fitness facilities
- Wellness-focussed airlines
- Nearby activities for relaxation and recreation
The recommendations should all support travel wellness objectives for opportunities to exercise, eat well and unwind. Making this effort sends the implicit message that you value their time and dedication, boosting employee morale, improving productivity and reducing turnover.
Put support systems in place to ease travel-related stress
Safety and alleviating travel-related stress should be priorities when developing a corporate travel and wellbeing program. All business travellers desire a smooth business trip, free from unexpected disruptions and stress. Travelling employees will feel more at ease knowing that support from a corporate travel manager is just a phone call or email away if the unexpected arises.
You can also ease the risk of this happening by:
- Pre-booking transportation from a qualified company like Citicar
- Asking business travellers to carry a smartphone with emergency contact numbers
- Offering a flexible purchasing policy that adapts depending on the circumstances of the business trip
To ensure a high level of support and duty of care, it’s important that travel managers are kept in the loop with the trip’s developments.
Let your employees unwind with rest and relaxation
Many employees appreciate the option to extend a business trip for rest and recreation. To achieve this, schedule extra time into trip itineraries and give employees the freedom to take a little ‘me time’ during the journey, whether it’s to catch a local exhibition they’d love to see or to linger in the city over a long weekend before returning to the office.
Incentivise healthy lifestyles
Incentivising healthy travel habits will make healthy behaviours more likely to stick. Think gift cards, frequent flyer points accrued to their personal account, or even extra annual leave days as a reward for making use of the hotel gym, selecting a healthy restaurant or achieving eight hours of sleep for every night the executive is away.
Customise the travel to accommodate individual employees’ needs
Your corporate travel health and wellbeing program should be tailored to whatever the individual employee needs to feel comfortable, productive and refreshed. This might mean flexibility in accommodation choices, the option to travel economy plus or business class on a longer flight or train journey, a stress-reducing massage to ease anxiety, or the opportunity to stay an extra day to sightsee and enjoy the local culture.
Help them adjust when they return
To support employees’ rest and wellbeing, consider adding a clause to your travel policy that covers the time after an employee returns from a long-haul flight. For example, you might request your employee avoid looking at emails for six hours after arriving or allow them to work flexibly from home so they feel well-rested and ready for upcoming challenges.
Educational mobile apps can help empower employees to take care of their help. Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been shown to help treat anxiety and depression, improve sleep while on the road, and even prevent unhealthy eating, while fitness and nutrition apps make it easier to maintain healthy habits.
Possible apps to suggest employees download in your corporate travel policy include:
- Remote productivity apps: Slack, Trello, Asana, Evernote
- Nutrition apps: Easy Diet Diary, YouAte Food Diary, MyFitnessPal, Change4Life Food Scanner, Argus Calorie Counter & Steps
- Fitness apps: Asana Rebel, Down Dog, Map My Run, Strava, Nike+ Training Club, Playbook, 7-Minute Workout, Freeletics
- Mindfulness and meditation apps: Headspace, Mindfulness App, Calm, Stop, Breathe & Thin
Creating an effective travel health and wellbeing program for your workplace offers many benefits. Even simple changes like flexible accommodation choices and health guidelines can help your employees to travel in a healthy way, increasing employee productivity, happiness and retention.
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