Improving Your Corporate Travel Policy

Even if your organization has the best expense reporting software in place, it’s difficult to manage expenses and T&E costs and compliance if you don’t have a great policy to accompany it all. That’s actually where a lot of even very large organizations fail when it comes to expense management and dealing with the logistics and the costs of employees who travel. They may have a policy but it’s too restrictive, or perhaps they have a policy that’s outdated.

Another common issue is having a corporate travel policy that everyone in the organization views as being fairly meaningless. The policy might be there, but there’s no training on it, and everyone in the organization basically assumes they can just ignore it.

The following are some things to know if you feel you’re ready to work on improving your corporate travel policy and your expense management policy. There are some things to include, as well as some things you definitely shouldn’t include.

Have an Understanding of Why It Matters

If the creators and enforcers of the company travel policy don’t see it as that important, why will the employees who are expected to be compliant? Corporate travel policies are the main tool a company has at their disposal to control travel costs. A travel policy is also a big part of keeping employees safe when they travel. Beyond that, having a strong travel policy shapes the experience the employee has, which can directly impact job satisfaction and retention.

Does Strict Work?

Having a travel policy is extremely important, but some organizations take that to mean the stricter the better, and this isn’t the case.

There was a study done by American Express Global Business Travel and GfK, a market research firm. It looked at how travelers from the U.S. as well as Australia, the UK, Singapore and other countries around the world deal with their travel and expense policies.

That studied showed that of the business travelers surveyed in the U.S., 75 percent said their company had a clear travel policy that was strictly enforced. However, even in the U.S. and France, which was the other country with the highest level of strictness reported for travel policies, there was still cases of defiance.

The research went on to show that there isn’t much correlation that can be demonstrated between how a policy is enforced and whether or not a policy is followed.

So what does this all mean? Having travel policies is important, but having them be ultra-restrictive and strict probably isn’t going to do much to encourage compliance.

Consider Your Employees’ Perspective

There’s a big push in the modern age of corporate travel to consider the needs and wants of employees. This doesn’t mean that they can run wild with their travel expenses, but you’re likely to see better compliance and satisfaction if you put them at the forefront when you’re creating or revamping a travel policy.

Based on research, some of the things that employees site as important or being especially problematic for them include a lack of convenient tools and fast support when they face an issue. Many employees also name missed flights and the problems they experience related to booking as issues they dislike when it comes to corporate travel.

A lot of employees report feeling like company policies make their booking and travel-related stress worse instead of better. For example, there was a survey from TripActions looking at these topics. Employees surveyed said that their biggest frustration with their current company policy was by and large that they had to book using a tool provided by their company. The second biggest frustration named by respondents was the fact their travel preferences weren’t prioritized.

Integrate Tools and Technology

Finally, if it’s time to update your travel policy, it’s essential that you integrate good tools and technology-based solutions. That deals with a lot of the issues faced on both the company and the employer end. For example, it’s easier to manage costs and keep them from spiraling out of control with good expense reporting software.

Also, employees in the TripActions survey said they had a problem with things like a lack of convenience and access to support, and these are issues that can be helped with good tools and technology.

The use of specific technology and its role in the corporate travel experience should be highlighted within the company’s policy so everything is seamlessly integrated and there’s no room for confusion or a lack of clarity.

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