July 22, 2024


The Tour And Travel Enthusiasts

Business-Travel Policies to Help Employees Avoid Burnout

5 min read
Business-Travel Policies to Help Employees Avoid Burnout
  • Employees are often eager to take business trips, but travel can be exhausting.
  • Business Insider spoke with three business leaders about improving the work-travel experience.
  • They suggested offering post-travel PTO, upgrading accommodations, and limiting frequent travel.
  • This article is part of “Business Travel Playbook,” a series about making the most of work travel.

Business travel provides opportunities to meet clients face-to-face, attend conferences, and explore new markets, but there are some drawbacks. During a business trip, employees are away from their families, their normal routines are disrupted, and they typically log in longer hours, which can be stressful.

But these challenges aren’t deterrents: According to a 2023 Global Business Travel Association report, business travel spending is expected to return to its pre-pandemic total of $1.4 trillion in 2024 and grow to nearly $1.8 trillion by the end of 2027.

With business travel playing an important role in many workplaces, Business Insider spoke with three business leaders for their advice on how companies can help business travelers mitigate stress and avoid burnout. They recommended the following four policies.

1. Provide PTO after a business trip.

Business travelers who’ve spent several days away are often expected to return to the office and continue as if they’d never left, which can exacerbate stress.

Danielle Sabrina, the founder and CEO of the public-relations firm Society22, travels weekly for work. She said employers could ease the burden of business travel by allowing employees to take time off after a business trip to recover.

“Benefits like lenient PTO policies that allow for recovery time and account for travel time can ensure employees are well-rested and show up to work as their best selves,” Sabrina said. “These measures collectively contribute to preventing burnout, enhancing job satisfaction, and promoting a healthier, more productive work environment.”

Headshot of Danielle Sabrina

Danielle Sabrina, the founder and CEO of Society22.

Eric Snyder Photography

Natalie Norfus, the founder of the independent human-resources company The Norfus Firm, also recommended a rest period after a business trip.

Employees who travel for work may be primary caretakers of children, pets, or older family members, Norfus said. Since business travel often disrupts a person’s routines and work-life balance, employees may need a day or two before returning to work.

Headshot of Natalie Norfus

Natalie Norfus, the founder of The Norfus Firm.

Courtesy of Natalie E. Norfus and Julian Buitrago

“If an employee has been on a weeklong business trip, the company should mandate a minimum of one or two days of rest,” Norfus said. “This policy allows employees to recover from jet lag, catch up on personal time, and reduce the cumulative stress of travel. This also requires that the employee’s work priorities are properly balanced so that they feel they have the space to take the rest period without worrying about catching up on work.”

2. Don’t allow meetings on travel days.

Whether a work trip includes commuting to a nearby city or traveling to another country, business travel can be tiring. When employees arrive at their destination, they should have the rest of the day to settle before attending meetings or events.

“My secret to achieving the perfect balance on a work trip lies in prioritizing rest and nutrition over a hectic schedule,” Sabrina said. “Opting for a more relaxed approach, I often arrive a day before my meetings, ensuring a restful night’s sleep.”

People who fly might experience delays, which is all the more reason for companies to avoid scheduling meetings or events on travel days.

“Dealing with the logistics of travel — such as flight delays, cancellations, lost luggage, and navigating unfamiliar places — adds an extra layer of complexity and potential stress to the trip,” Norfus said, adding that she’d often experienced delays herself in the past year.

3. Book upgraded flights or premium accommodations.

Ashlee Brennan, the vice president of leave compliance at AbsenceSoft, a scheduling platform for HR professionals, said company travel policies should provide business-class seats for longer flights or at least the option to upgrade.

“Employers should allow an employee to pay extra for a specific airline seat based on physical limitations or restrictions,” Brennan said. “Another policy could be not requiring employees to pick the cheapest flight, but instead, pick the one that works with their schedule and personal obligations.”

Headshot of Ashlee Brennan

Ashlee Brennan, the vice president of leave compliance at AbsenceSoft.

Courtesy of Ashlee Brennan

Staying in more comfortable accommodations can also boost employee morale. Premium hotels with amenities such as a gym and spa are helpful for employees who want to work out or decompress after a long day.

“Companies should book upgraded hotels when trips extend beyond a day or two,” Sabrina told BI. “Staying at premium hotels not only enhances comfort but also adds efficiency to my journey, thanks to the array of amenities and the abundance of health-conscious food choices that upscale establishments typically offer.”

4. Scale business travel as needed.

For many employees, the best way to mitigate stress from business travel is to limit the number of business trips they take.

“Setting a cap on the frequency of business trips can prevent burnout,” Norfus said. “This could mean limiting the number of trips an employee can take per month or quarter. It’s important to assess the necessity of each trip and explore alternatives like videoconferencing.”

Employees who have tended to travel often may need to sit down with their managers and discuss how many business trips they can take while maintaining a balanced schedule.

“It’s important to be realistic about how much work travel you can endure and how much work you can realistically complete if your job requires frequent travel,” Norfus said. “Once you’re clear about your needs, communicate openly and regularly with your manager and request accommodations, like flexible scheduling or reworking deadlines and priorities, to help manage stress.”

Along with taking fewer trips, employees can request accommodations like an adjustable schedule or the option to attend fewer social events.

“Business travelers should be up front with their managers about their comfort level around travel and whether there are any benefits that would help make the experience easier,” Brennan said. “Business travel is often integral to many professions. However, employees need to understand that they are not obligated to participate in every social gathering during a weeklong trip, and they have the option to ask for accommodations that can make traveling easier.”