Using Your Travel Program to Attract and Retain Top Talent

As the fight for skilled talent continues to intensify, employers need to look for innovative strategies to improve employee retention and attraction. Travel should be a part of this conversation because it directly impacts employee job satisfaction, with some people even considering it a major work perk.

The Global Talent Shortage Impacts Canadian Employers

If your organization struggles to find and retain highly skilled employees, you're not alone. The global talent shortage has impacted recruitment in nearly every industry. According to ManpowerGroup's 2018 Canadian Talent Shortage Survey, 41 percent of employers report difficulty recruiting.

The most difficult positions to fill include:
  • Sales representatives
  • Technicians
  • Engineers
  • Network administrators
  • Cybersecurity experts
  • Administrative support personnel
  • Project managers

In fact, research predicts that by 2030, unfilled jobs could cost approximately $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue

Leveraging Business Travel as an Employment Perk

Travel may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about employee retention, but it does play a role. Increasingly, employees view business travel as a benefit, rather than a burden. Research commissioned by Hilton Hotels & Resorts in 2018 found that 75% of millennial workers see business travel as a major perk, with 65% considering it a status symbol – some would even decline a job that didn’t allow them to travel for business. 

Given this mentality, it comes as no surprise that millennials also enjoy the benefits of bleisure. That is, allocating a little extra time to a business trip for leisure. In fact, a National Car Rental study recently found that 90% of millennials have engaged in bleisure travel in the past year and attribute it to greater work/life balance and employment satisfaction.

Yet, despite bleisure’s rise in popularity, employees also admit to feelings of guilt when they extend their trips for leisure, creating an opportunity for management and HR leaders to leverage business travel flexibility to attract and retain top talent.

Every year, approximately 35.1 million trips a year are taken by Canadian business travellers. For millennials in particular, a generation outnumbering baby boomers and Gen Xers in the Canadian labor force, employers can encourage bleisure as a means of supporting work/life balance. When travellers extend the length of their business trip to enjoy a few days of leisure time, they can explore the destination they are in while benefitting from reduced vacation travel costs as the transportation component has been taken care of.

For employers, encouraging bleisure can contribute to a positive culture, provide a satisfying work experience, and foster employee loyalty, creating a win-win situation for both the company and its employees. As a first step, companies should address bleisure in their travel policies or employee handbooks. This not only signals to your employees that you support their work-life balance – and that they don’t need to feel guilty – but it also allows your organization to communicate guidelines for travellers to follow.

As a starting point, these guidelines should define when exactly a business trip ends and when the leisure trip begins.

 Some examples of what you should define include:
  • What portions of the trip can be expensed?
  • How much of the trip is covered by travel insurance?
  • Can employees book leisure travel through the company’s booking channels?

As bleisure continues to grow in popularity, organizations who define these guidelines and proactively communicate them can leverage their existing travel programs to create a work perk for their employees.

Other Opportunities for Engagement in Your Corporate Travel Program

Beyond bleisure, your corporate travel program presents multiple opportunities to focus on employee engagement. A program which is structured to support the traveller experience and prioritize their wellbeing sends a very positive message. Backed by a comprehensive travel policy, your program should include provisions for traveller safety, guidelines for handling disruptions, and contingency plans to use in the event of an emergency – all of which contribute to your travellers feeling supported and prepared.

Additionally, a travel management company can help you integrate technology to improve the traveller experience, enhance personalization, and identify opportunities for process improvement. For instance, your organization could leverage smartphone apps to provide essential resources and destination guides, improve the booking process through an automated trip approval system, or streamline expense management processes to eliminate dated and time-consuming procedures.

For More Information 

Your organization's travel program should integrate with and support other vital business functions. With the right strategy in place, you can leverage your travel program to benefit your employee retention goals by providing a positive experience through flexibility, health and wellness, technology, and effective processes. For a complimentary assessment of your corporate travel program, contact us today.