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Work Travel Nightmares and How to Avoid Them

business travel

For thousands of organizations both big and small, travel is the best way to maintain contact with clients, satellite offices, and industry events. But for HR admins, just thinking about the issues that can arise while employees are on the road is enough to keep them up at night. In the interest of preserving your beauty rest, we’ve compiled some resources from around the web to help you recognize and avoid common travel-related pitfalls.

“Don’t worry, it’s on [your company name here].”

Overspending is probably the number-one problem associated with business travel . . . or at least it’s number one in the minds of executives. Expensive hotel bills, luxury car rentals, and expense reports can spiral out of control . . . unless you nip freewheeling in the bud before it starts.

Dana Larsen of Concur (a free expense reporting app) suggests that automation is the answer to reducing excessive travel & expense spending.

6 Ways to Save on T&E    

And Mike Christensen of WEX has a great how-to for policy delivery, including how to make the message stick with older and younger employees.

Tips for Effectively Communicating Your Corporate Travel Policy

“Work hard, play hard, right?”

Overindulgence seems to go hand-in-hand with the mental image of a business trip . . . and perhaps that’s why the stereotype gets reinforced. We aren’t policymakers, but we suggest a few steps like setting clear expectations, encouraging communication, and prohibiting alcohol as a reimbursement expense, but it’s a given that partying is going to happen. In this Wall Street Journal article, professional sommelier Richard Betts offers advice on how to stay sharp even when booze is on the prix fixe menu:

When Drinking on a Business Trip Isn’t Just Encouraged, It’s Required

“Anybody seen Dave?”

Group management can be problematic when people are scattered around a convention hall, an unfamiliar city, or the entire globe. Communication—before, during, and after every trip—is the key to keeping your team on target. Create an agenda, use group messaging apps to keep in touch, and try to designate free time to cut down on people sneaking away. Although this article’s a bit dated, PC Mag has some suggested apps that can help you track others’ whereabouts while you’re all on the road:

Group Communication Tools for Business Travel

“What happens in Schenectady, stays in Schenectady.”

Remember how overspending is the number-one issue for executives? Well, inappropriate behavior is probably the number-one concern for HR professionals, and it’s just as big if not bigger than overspending—because overspending generally won’t lead to a lawsuit. To give you an idea of how big a problem it is, a 2014 On Call International study showed that a full quarter of professionals admit to behaving badly while traveling on business.

Traveling isn’t an excuse to throw the employee handbook out the window, but at the same time, redistributing the handbook to traveling teams might come across as heavy-handed. Consider adding a section to your travel policy (you do have one of those, don’t you?) that outlines expected behaviors and reminds employees that there are consequences for their actions outside the office. And be sure to ask questions about travel experiences during review periods; it’s a good way to gauge how things go when your people are on the road.   

“I haven’t spent a week in the office since the first cool rocky/icy extrasolar planet around a main-sequence star was discovered via gravitational microlensing.”

We’ve been talking about organizational concerns, but if you ask the folks who actually travel a lot, the most common problems you’re likely to hear about are physical and mental fatigue, and the unseen cost of how being away affects relationships at home. Brian Robertson of HRVoice offers tips for HR administrators to help monitor and prevent travel burnout before it happens:

Avoiding Employee Burnout when Traveling for Business

Business travel comes with its own set of issues, some of them unique. But HR faces similar problems every day, and just because your people aren’t physically in the building is no reason to toss common sense out the window when it comes to predicting and managing foreseeable risks. We hope these resources help you grab the travel bull by its proverbial horns.  

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