How To Communicate Travel Policies to Employees
Posted by Mike Atherton on 17 November, 2017
Ensuring company-wide compliance with your corporate travel policies isn’t easy and can often feel like herding cats. Could better communication be the answer to increasing travel policy buy-in? And how can you better communicate your travel policies to your employees to ensure company wide compliance?
We’re sure that for many business travellers staying compliant with corporate travel policies can seem like a Kafkaesque nightmare, full of needless red tape, petty bureaucracy and obstructive meddling. In their eyes, travel managers probably seem like they're on a constant power-trip.
But convincing travellers to toe-the-line when it comes to corporate travel isn’t about making people jump through hoops for nothing. It's about keeping people safe and ensuring the best experience possible.
Better communication of your corporate travel policies creates an opportunity to realign how they are perceived in your organisation as well as to increase how well they are understood by business travellers. A few simple changes to your communications strategy and what was once viewed as pointless bureaucracy could be seen as beneficial by your corporate travellers.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you better communicate your corporate travel policies in your organisation and ensure travellers toe the line. Unfortunately, you're on your own when it comes to the cats.
1. Communicate By Making it Personal
As a general rule, people don’t appreciate being bombarded by blanket emails – they only want information that’s relevant to them. As a result, travel policy information contained in company-wide communications can easily go unnoticed.
Instead, new starters should always be introduced to corporate travel policy on a one-to-one basis and walked through correct protocols, while big updates to policy are also best explained in-person to ensure no details are lost in translation.
According to a GBTA study, this is most important for millennials, 51% of whom prefer to learn about company policies at in-person meetings. Sadly, despite over half of travel managers (54%) believing they regularly hold in-person meetings to communicate travel policy, just 20% of travellers said this was the case.
2. Don't Just Explain the What, Explain the Why
Nobody likes following rules for the sake of it but travellers are much more likely to comply if they understand the reasons why policies exist. Which is why giving travellers realistic, real-world examples of how travel policy compliance delivers favourable outcomes is such a powerful tool for encouraging adherence.
Convincing business travellers to cut down on travel expenses or solely book through approved channels might seem against their best interests at first, but explaining how following protocol benefits both your organisation and travellers themselves, can make rules look less like red-tape and more like a reward.
Taking a page from Google's Trips program is a sure-fire way to rebrand your role as corporate travel manager from bureaucrat to best-friend, with any savings from under-budget business trips being split between the employee and Google.
It's important that communication is a two-way street though, because often what you think might benefit travellers actually does the opposite. You should always use any opportunity to gather feedback on your current corporate travel policy.
3. Make Communication Simple, Visible and Available
One of the reasons corporate travel policy can feel overwhelming and contrived is because it's often dripping with jargon. One simple strategy for better communication is to strip back all the confusing language.
Condensing your policy into an easily understood checklist with 6-8 bullet-points is a great way to increase engagement. And if you can’t achieve this, it may be worth revaluating your policy to see if there's any unnecessary fat to be trimmed.
Hiding your policy from employees is just as unhelpful as wrapping it up in legalese. Your travel policy, both in long-form and a traveller-friendly version, should be easy to find and available 24/7. Empowering staff to access your policy via your shared server, HR portal or travel management app is a great way to ensure staff can refer to it whenever and wherever they are.
4. Follow Up and Follow Through on Your Communication
In a Mantic Point survey of business travellers, over 50% said they didn't receive any pre-trip information before travelling, which is not only disappointing from a duty-of-care perspective – but also misses an opportunity to reinforce company travel policy.
The same survey also revealed business travellers overwhelmingly want to be kept informed of changing circumstances and travel risks once their trip has started. Whether there are changes to transport arrangements, an increased terror threat or the risk of extreme weather, it’s your duty to ensure employees are in the know.
5. Meet Your Employees Wherever They Are
Advances in technology are constantly disrupting the business travel industry, and this is never more evident than when we talk about communication. In the space of just a decade or so, we’ve gone from travellers needing printed documents to having all the information they need in the palm of their hand.
With over 90% of business traveller moments now occurring on mobile, you need to ensure any communications you're sending are optimised across all mobile platforms – whether that's email, SMS messaging or through your company HR portal.
In the world of there being an app for absolutely everything, there’s no reason why your corporate travel shouldn't be managed through its own app, with white-label applications proving to be cost-effective and flexible solutions.
Rather than needing to coerce coworker compliance, better communication of your corporate travel policy will mean it eventually becomes second-nature, as staff gain a better understanding of what they need to do, why they need to do it and what's in it for them.
Pair this with providing easier access to a simplified and slimmed-down version of your policy and you should see business travellers stay compliant of their own accord. And if standards do slip, a one-to-one meeting is the best way to ease them back into good habits.
In short, follow these 5 tips to better communicate your corporate travel policy and you’ll spend less time trying to herd travellers towards compliance because they’ll already be following protocol. Unlike cats, who probably won’t ever do what you want.
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