The ideal policy should allow employees to travel without worrying about too many restrictions, yet not inflict unnecessary costs on the company.
When shaping the company travel policy, the following factors should be considered:
It should be fair and flexible
According to Concur, “A little flexibility goes a long way, because happy employees are more productive, which leads to long-term business success.” The key to an effective travel policy is to make it beneficial to both parties. By setting realistic restrictions, but offering some flexibility, employees will be incentivized to stick within the limits. By putting emphasis on the importance of keeping the workforce happy, employees will feel as though their best interests have been taken into account.
Consistency is key
Keeping the terms and conditions specific and consistent, and educating the staff on the regulations, will ensure everyone understands the policy and what is expected from them. All levels of staff spending should be monitored under one umbrella of regulations; “This means that executives should be treated the same as rank-and-file staff,” says Chromeriver. As people are being treated fairly, with their title having little impact on the policy guidelines, employees will be more likely to respect the rules.
Emphasis on the positives
Regular travelers may have airline and hotel preferences, but if these are outside of the budget, a reasonable alternative should be suggested. When travelling across countries, access to the airport lounge could be a practical incentive. Free food and somewhere comfortable to sit will make the employee more relaxed, gives them a calm workspace to increase productivity whilst on the move.
The policies have to be realistic and incentivize employees to prevent them from overspending when travelling. For example, when meeting with clients, duties may include taking business partners out for dinner. Some restrictions should be applied here, but allow some leeway for alcohol and food as the employee is representing the company, they don’t want to have too many limits and face embarrassment when covering the bill.
Try incentivizing the workforce through gamification; award prizes to those who find the cheapest flight. Business Travel Direct suggests that you should, “Find a reason for your travelers to align their purchasing behavior with your travel objectives whilst keeping it light-hearted, appealing and self-motivating.” Reward those who research and find the cheapest flight instead of just clicking on the more expensive option, knowing that they’ll be reimbursed anyway. A bottle of wine or meal vouchers will help encourage the reduction of spending; a small initial investment, costing the company much less in travel expenses in the long run. It’s all relative.
Keep your end of the deal too, make sure expenses are paid promptly. Take into account employee preferences whilst maintaining equality across all levels of employees. Business Review Europe found that, “The average time it takes to be reimbursed for an expense claim is 17 days. Long reimbursement times are commonplace because expense accounts have to be checked and processed.” As the turnaround time is lengthy, by ensuring prompt payment or compensation if it takes longer than promised, will incentivize employees to get claims in on time whilst being respectful of the process.
By ensuring the balance of these key aspects, a company can optimize on its travel policy. By asking employees for their spending preferences and putting into place fair expenditure limits, mutual respect for the system can be maintained. Incentivize the workforce to reign in their expenses without making huge cuts. There’s also new ways of collating the information digitally, so that money spent can be analyzed, to improve efficiency, allowing a company to effectively filter and monitor spending on travel related expenses.