Stress-busting in business travel

Keeping costs down is a priority for many businesses but sending your employees economy on a long-haul flight may not be the answer, writes Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s Nigel Turner in this guest article for EyeforTravel.com

Stress has been called the ‘global epidemic of the 21st Century’ by the United Nations International Labour Organisation It is estimated that as many as 30% of the world’s employees suffer from work-related stress. The business traveller is at particular risk,  due to lack of sleep, long working hours once they reach their destination, poor connectivity on-the-road, and a variety of other factors. Here at Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) we have researched the impact business travel has on the stress levels of employees.

In a recent survey, CWT asked 6,000 business travellers who had taken at least one air trip in the past 12 months about the most stressful factors of business travel. The survey was developed to measure the perceived stress generated by 33 possible stress factors covering pre-trip and post-trip activities, as well as transportation and destination-related factors.

What it found is that business travellers were most stressed by losing time or productivity during their journey, with the highest triggers of stress being lost or delayed luggage, poor Internet connection, flying economy on a long-haul flight, and flight delays.

Not only was it able to highlight the different business traveller demographics but also how travel stress affects them; travel stress increases with age and travel frequency, and gender also plays a role. Women almost always reported higher stress levels than men when faced with travel stress triggers, while travellers from North America indicated greater stress levels than those from other regions when contemplating a lack of understanding of a foreign language. A business traveller’s position within an organisation was a significant factor to the levels of stress they experienced - senior executives reported higher stress levels than travellers at other levels of an organisation, possibly due to the increased number of trips this demographic undertakes.  

New policies may be necessary

The data and results from this study will be used to create an overall measure of stress and to assess the corresponding productivity impact on an organisation. CWT will then be able to advise individual clients on how to mitigate the impact of travel stress on their employees and business.

For example, a company may adopt a policy where employees travel in economy class for flights under eight hours in order to save money. Although this may save the company $1 million a year on flights, it could cost them over $3million a year in lost productivity or increased absenteeism. Choosing a low-end hotel may also save money up front, but if it’s in an inconvenient location (far from the office or meeting space), or doesn’t have suitable Internet connection or other services travellers rely on, this could see money being wasted in other ways due to travel stress.

By understanding travel stress, companies can make better decisions for their travelling employees and business and may even boost productivity in the process.

This guest article was produced by Nigel Turner is Director of Programme Management & Business Development, UK & Ireland at Carlson Wagonlit Travel.For more information on business travel stress management, visit the CWT website

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