If you tell a child the sun is 150 million kilometres away, they believe you. If you tell a child not to touch the door because the paint is wet, they just can’t help but check if you’re telling the truth. So, what is it that makes us comply with rules, or in the child’s case, break them?
The simple answer is that if we don’t follow the rules, we might get in trouble and “numerous studies demonstrate that, when the threat of punishment is removed, people tend to disregard social norms”.
The same applies to business travel.
Trust me, I’m a Travel manager
A lack of engagement from travellers to your travel policy might just be a metaphor for the need to touch the wet paint.
Compliance is best achieved when it matters that someone follows the rules.
There’s a chance that frequency of travel changes how travellers view your travel policy. Someone who doesn’t travel often might be more inclined to follow the rules through fear of punishment.
A seasoned traveller that knows what they like and knows where to stay, might become more disengaged with the travel policy if it doesn’t suit their preferences.
Conflict of goals
HfS Research senior vice president, Christa Degnan Manning, states that “many workers are saying they would be more engaged and more productive if they could travel more to get work done.”
To keep employees compliant and engaged, you might choose to amend the policy to fit in with these ways of working rather than following traditional routes of a rigid policy.
What happens when people are not engaged?
If people aren’t engaged, they won’t see the benefit of using your policies or systems and it could be that they no longer trust colleagues or co-workers. As a result, compliance goes out of the window, cost savings are harder to achieve, and your fairness and equality gets parked with your good intentions of duty of care.
How to engage travellers and boost policy compliance
In order to stop travellers from ignoring your policy and become more engaged with it, you can try the following:
1) Make sure your travel policy doesn’t push people over the edge
It’s fair to argue that both travellers and those in charge of travel management have forgotten how important the experience is. This has reduced engagement to a point where anyone undertaking business travel sees it as more of a chore than an opportunity.
Help your travellers by adding some aspects of flexibility to the travel policy so it doesn’t seem so rigid and such a chore to adhere to.
2) Take into account the work-life balance
If you recognise the importance of personal time and combine fair and flexible treatment, you are far more likely to see boosts in policy compliance.
This can be achieved relatively easy. For example, rather than scheduling a flight that returns on a Saturday, why not pick the one that arrives the day before (even if there’s an increased cost for doing so)?
3) Treating travel as an HR function
If you can treat travel as a HR function, the terms within the policy will be geared towards making the experience better for the traveller. For example, rather than implementing a strict economy class-only booking rule, why not relax it for trips that will significantly impact an employee’s personal time?
4) Embrace an open booking policy
It’s not for everyone, but embracing an open booking policy could be the answer. By setting sensible rules that govern business travel but with flexibility to book as a traveller or more options for booking, staff engagement should rise.
Such policies will be valued by travellers, rather than being viewed as nothing more than roadblocks surrounded by red tape.
A traveller is more likely to engage with the policy when the business travel fits their work and travel preferences. They are also more likely to keep engaging when they trust you and realise the travel values are aligned with their own preferences.
What’s your perfect business travel solution? From integrations to customisation, we can help you find a solution that’s made to measure and easy to use.