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HR how-to: How to build a travel policy that benefits employers and employees

When it comes to drafting a corporate travel policy, you’re bound to disappoint one group or another. Try to scrimp and save, and you’re likely to have a disgruntled safes force, but give them too much leeway and you could find yourself footing the bill for perk-filled trips.

Depending on your business, chances are that travel is major cost for your business, perhaps ranking behind only payroll and rent. Therefore, it is imperative that you find a travel policy that helps foster a wider culture of cost consciousness while also boosting morale.

While this may sound like something that is easier said than done, the following steps will help you strike the right balance for your weary travelers:

Talk to employees about travel
It seems obvious, but some employees need to be reminded that their travel decisions affect the company’s bottom line, and that incremental savings can change the company’s financial trajectory for the better.

With this in mind, it is up to you to educate them about travel best practices, such as booking as far ahead as possible to reap an average of 23-percent savings, in order to help the employees make better informed decisions.

Listen to their travel concerns
Curious how your existing travel policy is working out? Then you need to speak with the only folks who are uniquely qualified to identify pain points and suggest improvements: Your employees!

For example, if your employees report that they hate the hotel options allowed under the company’s policy, they’re more likely to fork out more money for the non-approved hotel (and also put you at risk of losing your negotiated room rates). Simply adding one or two more hotel choices could therefore save you some money and also results in a happier traveler.

Provide structure, but remain flexible
Corporate travel policies should make it easy for employees to book trips and make it possible for managers to oversee expenses. With that in mind, they should provide travelers with options for flights and hotels, while also being mindful of certain cost constraints.

However, these policies should also be dynamic enough to account for the fact that no two travelers and even no two trips are alike. The best types of policies are built with the specifics of a company’s culture and travel patterns in mind.

Reward cost-conscious behavior
A sound travel policy rewards employees for saving, not punishes them for overspending. So, for example, setting a hard cap on travel expenses might reduce overall travel spending, but it could also severely lower employee morale.

There are several ways to make employees partners in cost savings. Examples include splitting the money saved on a trip with the employee or perhaps allowing an employee that comes under budget to upgrade their flight or hotel on subsequent travel. Further, you should also take steps to reward teams or departments that demonstrate frugal behavior by honoring their efforts or even allowing them to reinvest these savings into other perks.
Tell us, what do you do in your business to cut travel costs without upsetting your workers?

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