Why our company travel policy is all about duty of care
Having just updated the Progressive Travel Recruitment company travel policy, I have been thinking about our core beliefs.
One of the key themes of our travel policy is to indicate our duty of care to our colleagues. When any of us travels for work – which we all do fairly frequently, the company actively looks out for our wellbeing. We consider health, safety, comfort, and who the person should contact if there’s a problem; we think about the whole person, rather than just the output expected during the trip.
Another of the key tenets of the company travel policy is equality. It’s very important to us that there isn’t a hierarchy at Progressive. All of us travel at the same level. We don’t emphasise luxury, but we are all at a stage in our lives and careers where only using the most basic and inexpensive services isn’t always appropriate. There’s no point in making life difficult for ourselves when we travel. We all recognise that travel isn’t a commodity, but a service – and should be chosen accordingly.
I read an eye-opening Skift article recently about frequent business travellers suffering from burnout. It recognises that health concerns should have higher priority in most company travel policies than they currently do. Companies that are making their staff take business trips crammed with meetings, just-in-time transfers, and overnight travel followed by events, need to think about the complete person and not just the bottom line. And, in fact, the bottom line will be the thing that suffers if staff are suffering fast burnout. There’s very little that’s more expensive to a business than high staff turnover. Treating staff better would actually boost both personal and economic outcomes of business trips.
We’re a travel company, and we want our team to enjoy travel – we’re all travellers at heart, it’s something everyone in the company has in common. We don’t want it to be slog. We recognise that we all work hard – we expect the team to work hard, and we do so as directors. But we recognise that a work-life balance is important. We’ve given out spa vouchers to all of the team over the past year, allowing them to switch off from the day to day recruiting.
Our non-hierarchical approach extends into company travel, which is written into the company travel policy. We want our colleagues to arrive refreshed after travelling, and, depending on the length of travel, that may include upgrading to a higher level of comfort. Last year the team all travelled business class to Dubai for our annual overseas team weekend.
Having all worked in the travel industry previously, we’ve been used to free or reduced-rate upgrades on flights, and hotel room upgrades, so we’ve witnessed first-hand the benefits of travelling in comfort, coupled with the increased level of motivation such perks bring. In addition, rail travel within the UK may be first class, again, depending on the length of journey. The benefit of free Wi-Fi, a comfy seat, and a little peace is worth the extra cost. However, we may also travel using easyJet – the point is, whatever the mode of travel, we all travel the same way.
This equal approach means that everyone in the company feels equally valued. In terms of accommodation, again, the directors would expect everyone in the team to enjoy the same level of comfort (although, being a canny Scot, I always look at Premier Inn for my own travel, before exploring other options).
If we look after the team, the team will look after us, and we’ll benefit from a more-motivated operation, and increased loyalty from our colleagues. A motivated team is a successful one. Some of the team have commented on how much better they’re treated here in comparison to companies our colleagues have previously worked for. It’s important for our ethos of valuing how we treat our colleagues to go into our company travel policy, and for us to take duty of care into account at all times, and to communicate that to everyone who works with us.
In line with our flexible approach, we actively encourage the team to work from any location in the world, as long as there’s a phone and decent Wi-Fi signal. They all have portable access to all of our systems. Last year some of the team worked in South Africa for 3 months, and this summer a number of them went on holiday and extended their trip, allowing them to work overseas for a change of scene and a little extra sunshine. All we ask if for them to work to UK hours.
Each year we have an overseas trip with the team, lasting 3 days. Last year it was Dubai, this year Spain. In other years we’ve hosted weekends in the Lake District for the team. While we have a meeting to discuss the business, the emphasis is on relaxing and having fun.
Need more advice on writing your travel policy? Read this blog.