Some business travellers spend so much time on the road, they run this risk without realising it.
Ask any HR department what their number-one challenge is, and they’ll tell you it is recruiting and retaining good staff – the engine room of any organisation.
Companies invest millions in motivating their staff, improving their working conditions and providing incentives, but little thought is given to how frequent business travel can have a negative impact on the morale of your business travellers.
The term “travel friction” has only recently emerged in office corridors as management starts to focus on the very real risk of burnout during duty travel. Some business travellers spend so much time on the road, they run this risk without realising it, which in turn affects their productivity and willingness to stay in the business.
So real is this threat that international corporate travel consulting firms such as tClara are looking at predictive models to try to alert management to which travellers risk burnout and what to do to prevent it from happening.
A recent study conducted by FCM Travel Solutions with the African Business Travel Association revealed that the main causes of traveller friction among South African business travellers include flight delays and missed flights and poor service from airlines and hotels, followed by lost luggage and fear of crime or terrorism.
The study confirmed that the concept of traveller friction is a relatively new one in the South African corporate travel environment, with as much as 58% of corporate travel managers admitting it has low or no priority within their organisation.
Internationally, however, traveller friction and its negative impact on the organisation and its staff are forcing travel managers to amend their policies and introduce measures that reduce that friction.
Technology has its part to play in proactively managing travel friction, explains FCM Travel Solutions South Africa GM Euan McNeil. “With connected technology, it is possible for an organisation to red-flag travellers who have the potential for burnout due to too much travelling.
“This gives the employer the opportunity to make policy changes or intervene with those employees before potentially losing them, which could cost the organisation a great deal in lost skills.”
Corporate travel, by its very nature, requires travellers to be connected at any time, on any device, anywhere in the world.
“A platform like FCM Connect gives travellers access to an integrated suite of technology that assists with many aspects of their journey, including trip approval and online booking,” says McNeil.
“The platform also provides traveller tracking, programme reporting and data analytics, which provides management with the tools required to assess proactively when their staff run the risk of traveller friction. This technology enables the company to track travellers accurately and inform them proactively of any potential disruptions, delays or threats to their safety, helping to mitigate potential sources of friction.”
McNeil says HR and travel managers who are assessing traveller friction should look at metrics such as number of trips, days away from home, flight hours and number of countries or cities visited, among others.
“By examining the data on hand that a tool like FCM Connect provides, and determining the travel history of your road warriors, you can develop steps to counter traveller friction and prevent traveller burnout.
“There’s no longer any need for hindsight when you can save your company and your staff from the anguish of travel friction by dealing with red flags as they arise. It has become a very real responsibility of corporates to their travelling staff, and dealing with it proactively has great benefits for both the organisation and its employees.”