Whether you’re part of a huge corporation or you’re a startup, having a well-defined employee travel policy is essential. A lot of companies will find that when they’re in their startup period, they forego having defined policies.
There’s a tendency to think that they don’t really have the need to write something like a travel policy since they are relatively small. Then, they start growing quickly and before they know it not having a policy can be extremely expensive and problematic.
In larger companies, the issue may not be a nonexistent travel policy. What the issue may be instead is that it’s not updated or relevant to employees. Once a travel policy is written, there’s a tendency in large organizations just to leave it as-is without modernizing it or updating it to meet the needs of the current environment.
Even when a company has great expense management software, they still need to make sure they have a strong travel policy to go hand-in-hand with that. Integrating expense management technology with a well-written policy can cut costs and ensure the company stays on budget and it can also ensure compliance.
The following are some tips to guide to creating of a modern travel policy, regardless of the phase your business is in.
Understand Your Employees
There is a divergence between younger generations and older generations when it comes to corporate travel.
Millennials tend to enjoy corporate travel and see it as a work perk much more than older generations. It’s even touted as part of many benefits packages and used as a recruiting tool.
At the same time, that often comes with blurred lines as far as spending. There’s a term for the blending of business and leisure travel—bleisure. This is something younger employees might be more inclined to participate in, which is fine. Most companies find that it’s a good thing, but it needs to be guided by a strong travel policy to avoid compliance and spending issues.
If you have younger employees and they’re more likely to favor a combination of business and leisure travel, make sure this is integrated into your travel policy.
Something else to consider is not just the overall design of trips that younger employees might favor more than older employees. It’s also key to think about the ways that your employees might want to book their accommodations, and even where they might want to stay. For example, Millennial corporate travelers might be more interested in staying in an Airbnb than a hotel, so you’ll have to figure out how this will factor into your policy.
What to Include
Companies are going to vary based on their size, their travel needs, and their budgets but there are some general things that should be included in almost any business travel policy.
Some things that should definitely be included are the policies for expense reporting and reimbursement, the travel expenses that aren’t going to be covered, and how employees are expected to book the logistics of their travel. Also important to include are budgets and the legal responsibilities of the company as well as the employee when they’re traveling for work.
Have a Point Person
If you’re part of a larger company you might consider having a travel manager, a travel management team or you might outsource travel management. If you’re a smaller company you still need to have someone who’s in charge of managing travel.
If your budget is small or you’re just starting out, you may be able to have a travel manager who works as a contractor or freelancer on an as-needed basis.
Concisely Outline Restrictions
Employees enjoy autonomy in pretty much everything, and that’s especially true when it comes to corporate travel. As much as possible give them flexibility and autonomy in your travel policy, but if there are restrictions, be as clear as possible on those.
While you might leave many things up to the employee, if there are limitations they need to know about, don’t make them guess.
Get as specific as possible as well. For example, you might have guidelines for the type of airline ticket someone can book depending on whether they’re going on a shorter or longer flight—detail that in your policy and market your policy to employees so it’s always front and center.
Finally, while it’s necessary to be clear and specific, try to avoid being restrictive as much as possible. An overly restrictive corporate travel policy can make employees dissatisfied which can lead to lower productivity and problems with your company culture.