5 ways to wellbeing when travelling on business

With frequent business travel contributing to ill health and impaired job performance, it's as important as ever for employers and travel buyers to focus on traveller wellbeing. Here are our top tips.

Frequent business travel has a significant potential downside for the traveller. Poor diet, lack of exercise and alcohol abuse, the effects jet lag including disturbed sleep, daytime fatigue and gastrointestinal problems, all add up to impaired job performance.

Although duty of care is not a new priority for travel buyers and their employers, research suggests that less than 20% of travel policies make any reference to traveller wellbeing. [Source: beyondbusinesstravel.com].

Capita Travel and Events is the only travel management company with a Behavioural Psychologist and Head of Traveller Experience. We use behavioural science to understand what makes travellers tick and use this knowledge to approach wellbeing and travel differently.

Wellbeing means different things to different people. By understanding what business travellers in different organisations perceive as important to their own wellbeing, we can get much closer to what really matters to people while also helping to fulfil an employers’ duty of care to them.

The five steps to wellbeing

Scientific studies have shown that there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing and make ourselves happier [Source: New Economics Foundation]. A key part of our Smarter working approach is helping travellers make better decisions; the five ways framework helps specifically with better wellbeing choices.

We frame each of the five steps as a question. By asking travellers to score each step between one to ten, we build up an accurate picture of both reality and expectations. We then tailor our recommendations accordingly, with some examples shown below.

  1. Be active: Can you be active and healthy when travelling? Make sure you get plenty of sleep, choose the healthy food options, avoid eating junk food or drinking, especially on a plane. If you’re feeling sluggish, your productivity will suffer.

  2. Connect: Can you maintain and enhance social relationships when travelling? Avoid that sense of loneliness and isolation by maintaining your social relationships even when away on business. Family, friends and colleagues are the cornerstones of your life.

  3. Be at your best: When travelling, can you be at your best for work? Book direct flights, minimise long layovers and multiple connections wherever possible. Choose hotels with quiet floors and don’t fill every minute of your trip with work. If you feel mentally tired, it’s time to take a rest.

  4. Learn: Do you feel that you learn when you travel for work? Life is a continual learning process and travel broadens the mind so use the opportunity of business travel to not only hone work skills but also explore new destinations and learn about new cultures.

  5. Give: Do you feel that business travel enables you to contribute to society or community? People who help others are usually happier than those who don’t. Research shows that committing an act of kindness once a week for 6 weeks will improve wellbeing.

Some of these initiatives are well-known but are yet to be widely adopted. Other initiatives are more challenging but offer new ways of approaching traveller wellbeing. The five ways approach gives us an intuitive yet scientifically-grounded framework to really have different conversations about traveller wellbeing. We then use our unique position as a travel management company to raise the bar on wellbeing offerings with our partners – the hotels, airlines and train companies who can play a critical role in wellbeing.

To understand how Smarter working can help you to create better traveller experiences and cut costs, contact us or read our latest white paper.