By Carmen Stinson on Dec 06, 2018
4 min read
Corporate travel policies have mainly 3 goals: educate employees about travel guidelines, increase employee satisfaction while traveling and ultimately saving money. So why aren’t employees complying with your corporate travel policies?
A great part of the travelers surveyed was aware of their company’s travel and expense policies. More than half of them believed the policies are not clear, making them unable to comply with them. Traveler satisfaction has become a key factor of a successful travel program due to its link to employee productivity, morale, and retention. As the travel landscape continues to improve, your Travel Management Company (TMC) partnership becomes even more valuable.
Here are a few reasons why your employees are not complying with your current travel policy.
Employees don’t know corporate travel policy exists
In many cases, this is due to lack or ineffective communication. If your employees aren’t aware of your corporate travel policies, you cannot expect them to comply with those standards.
You can start by defining an onboarding process, to continued education. Policies should be widely circulated, whether it is via a printed document, a distribution done in the corporate intranet, email, etc.
Employees don’t understand corporate travel policy
Adaptation will increase once employees understand the ‘why’ of things. Many employees bookings airline tickets and hotels themselves are unaware that the travel program in place is meant to bring efficiencies and savings. While policy might seem clear to the writer, it might not be the case for time-pressed or stressed employees. To help with this make sure the corporate policy is concise, to the point, easy enough to understand and apply, making it easy for employees to quickly find the information they are looking for.
Make sure to state very clearly whether the policy consists of flexible guidelines or rather strict clauses that should always be followed. Lastly, be sure to aim to outline the steps your business travelers must take in case of unplanned scenarios. For instance, what should they do in case the hotel room doesn’t appear as reserved?
You can start by asking feedback on awareness of current travel program. Next, you can share the actual travel program via training sessions. Tip: your Travel Management Company will be a great resource and can take the burden away from you! This process will show your employees you care, and help them understand your travel program in full.
Employees are breaching corporate travel policy by accident
Employees are, for the most part, full of great intentions: they want to save the company’s money, own the process and have control of their spendings. But sometimes employees breach corporate travel policies without realizing that the policy is actually mandatory, and not a ‘guideline’.
Education, giving feedback sessions and audits are a great way to study the current travel program. One solution is to use a breach of policy as a learning experience.
One company reported success in sharing with employees the non-compliant itineraries, and the policy reasons. Employees claimed to find cheaper itineraries elsewhere, however, the company proved that this was the case indeed in maybe 2-3% of the bookings. Additionally, the company shared with the employee the amount of administrative work a ‘rogue’ booking caused: manual input into systems, lack of duty of care compliance, loss of travel insurance coverage and credit card payment efficiencies, etc.. The company then defined that unless ‘rogue’ itinerary brings in $200 in savings, the employees were not allowed to book outside the corporate travel management services.
Employees are breaching corporate travel policy intentionally
There are many areas in which employees tend to intentionally breach the company’s corporate travel policy. One of such areas comes to booking airfares and hotels. Preferred brands overpricing can be costly. You can easily prevent this by using technology that only displays airfares and bookings that are compliant with corporate travel policies, giving the employee no other choice but to choose amongst those. Or you may consider incentivizing employees who book within the TMC parameters and additionally saves money by making a more economical choice.
Your travel policy is not being improved
When was the last time you reviewed your T&E policy? While updating the policy might seem something minor, your employees and the way they book flights and do expenses around traveling certainly have evolved recently. Digitized receipts, mobile applications, travel booking tools, Uber and Airbnb amongst others have changed the way modern employees travel in their private life. Moreover, with millennials being introduced to the workplace, your workforce and planning have made a turn. However, many organizations have not improved their corporate policies yet.
It is still creating confusion and frustration amongst the employees. Up-to-date T&E policies connect with the lifestyle of their employees and take into consideration the ‘bleisure’ trend.
A recent study by Travel News (BTN), a group of 504 travel management professionals, displayed that some businesses have tried trendy strategies such as making watch lists and putting these employees on said list for a few months to raise compliance and then removing them from the audit altogether. Implementing this method, employees get a taste of freedom once they have gained the company’s trust and are fully aware of the policies. Other corporations have explored different approaches such as offering additional free time for travel if employees book airfares in economy class.
Perhaps, the most significant action for anyone involved in promoting policy compliance is to notch the approaches to the company’s culture. Gamification might work well in a small business with a pleasant, laid-back culture, whereas a full policy showing positive and negative data about each traveler or department compliance might work well in a larger organization with a competitive ambiance. Beyond company culture, a focus on compliance will remain significant as a way to save on travel cost and keep travelers happy.
Click here to find out some mistakes to avoid when making a Corporate Travel Policy
By: Carmen Stinson
Director, Global Corporate Travel Sales & Operations