Phocuwire Highlights the Shift from Traveller Safety to Traveller Wellness - What's Missing?
An article in Phocuswire has put renewed attention on the shift in business travel from traveller safety to traveller wellness. This is great news. I highlighted a need for this shift a video in August 2020, albeit in a Covid tinged conversation, you can view that video here - The Future of Traveller Wellness.
Traveller the key value
"the traveler is the key point around that value, whether it's work or personal, they're the one that is out there. They're the one that can either drive value or not drive value" - Eric Bailey
My contention then, as is now, was that if we focused on traveller wellness rather than just traveller safety, we could be in a position to have better control over the impact future pandemics have on business travel. A stronger foundation of traveller health can deliver this. It was never a question about choosing between traveller safety and traveller wellness, it's always been about intelligently getting to both.
Now the haze of the pandemic is behind us what do we see? One solution organisations are looking at are wellbeing dashboards for travellers. I think this effort must be applauded as a step in the right direction, but wellbeing dashboards alone are not enough. Not if they only track objective measurements such as the number and length of flights as the article suggested.
You have to add personalised data points of the road warrior's experience to get a real "objective view". Better still, if you start from the traveller perspective first, you are in a stronger position to get both sets of objective and subjective data, for an informed view. This approach allows you to nurture the wellbeing culture you have, rather than just having another set of staid metrics to measure.
Getting personal is mandatory
Trying a too clinical approach and not adding the "in the weeds experience" of the road warrior lifestyle makes it easy to miss valuable insights and clues. It is not uncommon for road warriors to report everything being okay by most objective measures and still be critically challenged or even worse, burnout.
To be clear road warriors don't need to be mollycoddled but they do need help with challenges specific to them. This is why a generic dashboard measuring everything every road warrior has in common, and omitting idiosyncrasies of each person's circumstance is less than ideal. At some point it has to get that granular.
Because travel managers have their own lives to deal with any expectation that they have the bandwidth to get in the weeds with every road warrior they support is fanciful, and another reason starting from the traveller perspective with the traveller first, matters.
Technology is part solution
Data and technology are adjuncts in the role they play when it comes to business traveller wellbeing. If we don't feed the right data in at the start the results aren't of much use.
Objective data is good and commonplace, subjective data is essential and necessary to get the whole picture. Without guarantees from the data controller that the data is safe, road warriors will be reluctant to relinquish control of their data. That equals an incomplete dashboard. Having clear benchmarks and co-opting the traveller into data collection avoids this problem altogether. This is provided the traveller can relate to this task as something of value other than just another job demand. Co-opting the traveller into their own traveller wellbeing journey is crucial, and the crux of the matter.
Good culture makes sense...again!
For organisations with a deep culture of looking after their people this should come easy. Getting into more intimate conversations about wellbeing and health for mutual beneficial outcomes, should come as a natural next step. To get to this conversation, asks questions of the current workplace culture.
Sometimes corporate cultures try to implement or pivot on a traveller wellness program without doing their homework. The homework is getting the workplace culture right in the first place. A good traveller wellness culture thrives in a good workplace culture. While your road warriors may not always be in the office they are impacted by the prevalent culture directly and indirectly. To quote Peter Drucker "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". You need both. If the general culture is not supportive, working in smaller sub-groups may be an option.
Commitment with action
A dashboard with objective and subjective metrics however, is not enough. The next step is how do you re-tool your traveller community with right tools to increase their chances of success? A benchmarking tool for travellers would be a good place to start. You want to have a good idea of where the traveller is wellness-wise before they step on a flight, as much as during and after a flight. Capturing and monitoring the right information at the right time allows you to do this. Drilling down from that can yield specific options that cater to the distinct type of traveller community you cater to.
It's time to acknowledge the change we see in the workplace in business travel, where work is now increasingly personal. We have to take this change and have it reflected in how travel programs are managed and put together. Whether it's data for dashboards or people management it requires a more personalised touch.