Big data is a fine thing when it uncovers insights and patterns we can manipulate to make things better. That seems to be the task Capita Travel & Events has set itself with its Smart Working wellness tools for business travellers, launching in September 2017. A year of qualitative and quantitative research is the impetus behind the program. My perspective from working with business travellers is that this is another tool the Travel Wellness space could do with to reduce the toll of business travel.
Uncovered in the data was the finding that there was a 27 percent higher sickness rate amongst the most frequent travellers, which cost Capita £2.3million. This alone continues the narrative that ignoring the travel wellness of mobile workforces is not good for business. The drilled down data showed those on international travel duty had the highest absenteeism, this is similar to the white paper by AirPlus International titled AirPlus Traveller Productivity: How to tailor your travel policy to improve traveller performance.
Addressing health and productivity in the workplace needs encouragement from all stakeholders for different and varying reasons, not least for the pecuniary damage, it inflicts on business. Another reason is the cost to human capital. Scott Cohen, deputy director of research of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey recently published a paper titled A Darker Side of Hypermobility, in which he aggregated the data from 15 years of major studies on frequent travel. It makes grim reading for the individuals with frequent flying as part of their job description and should set off alarm bells for companies operating globally with mobile workforces.
I would contend that corporations with frequent flyers should make a distinctly separate corporate wellness program for flyers, in comparison to the one offered to office-based employees. Catering specifically for traveller wellness by writing it into travel policy is a good start, backing it up with a dedicated traveller wellness point person or consultant is even better.
You might ask, why the need for a travel wellness point person/coach? Living on the road can throw up some inconvenient and unique challenges. A well-versed travel wellness consultant can see the bigger picture and put it into perspective for the traveller in a crisis, better than any policy can. A well-placed travel wellness coach can offer a variety of skills and be a great touch point for streams of business travellers passing through the office. In the age of disruption and globalisation, this is more valuable than ever. Furthermore, many of the tools in current use (policy or contingency) are of a reactive nature. The travel wellness community could do with a good dose of preventative measures to sit alongside these.
The old paradigm of employee workplace wellness said performance health and happiness mutually influenced each other.
As intangible as health and happiness are stakeholders should wake up to the idea that the touchy-feely stuff matters especially when you draw the correlation to the tangible metric of performance.
Diagrams – © ACSM 2011