Business travel; it seems glamorous, right?
With the inescapability of social media, business travel has taken on a certain air of fascination and desirability. Thousands of artfully crafted Instagram photos, catchy Tweets, and cool Facebook location “check-in’s” make it seem as though business travel is the ultimate job perk.
And this envy is not only driven from our friends, family and colleagues’ posts, but also from the near constant ads being promoted by the travel industry.
But behind all the social media posts, the consequences of frequent travel towards employee health are quite prevalent. So what are these side-effects you may ask?
Research has shown that people who frequently travel actually age faster. And it’s largely due to jet lag.
Jet lag is the disturbance of the body’s circadian rhythm and it affects sleep and gastro-intestinal patterns after high speed travel across multiple time zones. Feelings of jet lag can last up to six days after flying and are shown to affect mood, decision-making and concentration. This disruption of frequent travellers’ body rhythms also has an impact of gene expression, which influences the aging process.
Weaker Immune System
No matter where you’re seated on the airplane, be it basic economy or first class, everyone is breathing the same recycled air and touching the same bathroom door knobs. Not only are frequent business travellers more often exposed to germs, the constant feeling of jet lag and overall tiredness from travelling can actually turn off genes linked to the immune system.
This means that these business travellers are not as well equipped to combat sickness and disease as those who travel less. And as most organizations know, sick employees lead to a decrease in productivity and overall ROI.
We’re sure it comes as no surprise, but those who travel a lot don’t have very much time to properly plan out and prepare fresh, healthy meals when on the road. And airplane food definitely doesn’t help matters. Airplane food is often packed with salt and sugar to account for the fact that passengers’ scent and taste decrease due to the lower air pressure and humidity levels in the aircraft. This combined with a general lack of opportunity to exercise when travelling leads to a higher risk of obesity.
Risk of Burnout
Business travel often involves early mornings, late evenings and jam-packed workdays. As well, many frequent business travellers are forced to fly in economy class, increasing physical and mental fatigue. This fatigue, coupled with repeated jet lag and the build-up of travel stress can become a chronic issue, and is a phenomenon called “frequent traveller exhaustion.” This continual exhaustion increases the risk of employee burnout, which not only harms your team member, but also your bottom line.
So after all this, you might be wondering how you can keep your employees from falling victim to these frequent travel risks. Here are 6 business travel wellness tips which you can incorporate in your organization and into its travel program to keep your travellers healthy and happy.
1. Update your Hotel Program
Negotiate room rates with hotels that have onsite gym facilities. And, if your organization hosts health or fitness competitions, be sure to include (and encourage!) those employees who frequently travel to participate.
As well, look into partnering with hotel chains that prioritize traveller wellness. For instance, hotels like the Westin are creating and implementing wellness programs which focus on healthier menus, energizing fitness programs, and better rest.
2. Exercise Classes
Consider reimbursing the cost of exercise classes that frequent business travellers take while on the road. Offering this option is a fantastic way to motivate your employees to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, even when travelling.
3. Proper Planning
Assist your frequent travellers with their pre-trip planning. Make helpful resources easily available, like a printable packing checklist, or consider paying for concierge services for your most frequent business travellers.
For example, DUFL is an amazing service that aims to simplify business travel. The traveller selects the items from their virtual closet that they would like packed in their luggage through a mobile app. Then, DUFL takes care of packing and delivering the traveller’s luggage to their destination. Services like these will relieve some of the stress your most frequent travellers certainly feel and will enable them to better focus on what really matters.
4. Avoid Layovers
Running between flights is an incredibly stressful aspect of business travel. Encourage your business travellers to avoid selecting travel arrangements that require a connecting flight.
However, if unavoidable, remind them to choose an option with a lengthy layover. This way, they won’t have to worry about sprinting from one flight to the other.
5. Extra Night
Allow your travellers to book an extra night, either before or after their important meeting to rest, recharge and re-energize. Rested employees will perform much better and will ultimately help your organization.
Lastly, it’s important that your employees understand the importance wellness and their wellbeing. Incorporate wellness courses into your organization’s daily functions, with a specific focus on stress management, nutrition, and fitness. As well, you might consider running yoga or meditation classes during lunch hours to increase overall health and happiness throughout your organization.
What are you tips for frequent business travellers?
“A Darker Side of Hypermobility” by Scott Cohen & Stefan Gössling
“7 ways to make business travel easier on your employees” by Achievers