Joker in the battle for skilled staff

Satisfaction on business trips increases company loyalty

For companies, business trips are essential to economic success, since they are designed to sign and seal business deals. For their staff, however, business travel often means one thing in particular – stress. To optimise the outcomes of business travel, bosses should be supportive of their employees in the organisation and implementation of their business trips. This fosters the working atmosphere and staff satisfaction. But far too little use is still made of these possibilities. For example, 69 percent of companies permit employees travelling on business to use their time flexibly only as an exception. This is revealed in a study entitled “Chefsache Business Travel” (Business travel is up to the boss) by the Business Travel Committee of the German Travel Association (DRV), under whose roof Germany’s leading business travel agencies are organised.

Ninety percent of the time, companies that send their staff on business trips do so for one reason only: to book business or at least pave the way to doing so. “But aside from this immediate result, executives disregard another benefit of business travel: staff satisfaction as a means of strengthening employees’ loyalty to the company,” says Stefan Vorndran, Chairman of the Business Travel Committee at the DRV. Employees who travel a lot are exposed to permanent stress. If they are not compensated for this in one way or another, the atmosphere at work, and hence staff satisfaction, may suffer permanently as a result.

Companies are therefore well advised to optimise their employees’ business travel arrangements. The fact that the people sent on business trips are usually highly skilled and consequently in great demand makes this all the more vital. “Given the shortage of skilled labour, employees’ satisfaction on business trips is becoming an increasingly important factor. Besides which, motivated travellers deliver better results,” Vorndran insists.

Vera Calasan, chief executive of the ManpowerGroup Deutschland, seconds this view. “Competition for skilled staff is getting tougher and tougher, so no business can afford not to exploit the potential to increase highly qualified employees’ loyalty. Professionally organised business travel is one effective way of doing this,” the human resources specialist believes.

Ways of taking some of the stress off staff on business trips range from professional reservation and preparation by specialised business travel agencies ahead of travel, to personal all-round service while employees are away from the office. Equipping staff with technical devices such as smartphones and laptops enabling them to arrange their working time flexibly is a good way of making things easier for workers “on the road”. Companies can also enhance the appeal of business trips, and thus give employees a sense of greater loyalty to the company, by offering extras such as help with ways of using the time before and after business appointments, either with specific dining recommendations or general travel information on the destination.

“Business travel can even play a decisive role when companies are looking for staff, because it is often these ‘soft’ factors that ultimately sway applicants when deciding between various potential employers,” Vera Calasan says.

Business travel can thus prove a vital “joker” for companies competing for staff on the jobs market.