Remember your first day at the new job? There were forms to fill out, security badge pictures to be taken, and a tour of the office building. You were handed a corporate policies book to read and a document to initial – indicating that you had read the policies book.

There was a separate Travel Policies book. It was filled with lengthy paragraphs about what you may/may not do in terms of business travel, and what constituted both in-and out-of-policy behaviour.

Company A and Company B

You worked for Company A for four years and now work for Company B.  Typical of both jobs, you have often been required to travel.  Following the convoluted and cumbersome travel policy of Company A was an onerous task. 

But your new company has made following its corporate travel policies easier, even pleasant. What’s the difference? 

The Company A Way

Company A had business travel policies, created at the founding of the company – and never updated. Here are some of Company A’s key travel problems:

  • Executive buy-in: Company A’s travel policies lacked support and enforcement from the executive level on down. Awareness of this kind of disregard trickled down from the executive suite, through middle management, and on down to the entry-level clerk. Eventually everyone who travelled on company business found reasons for not adhering to company travel policy. 
  • Training and educating: Company A placed the burden of communicating and training employees on travel policy to the understaffed HR team who had little time to familiarize employees with the travel policies. Consequently, few employees were knowledgeable on the travel policies, and had little incentive to follow its outdated policies.
  • Costly management: Lack of a practical, up-to-date travel policies with good policy management and employee education cost Company A a fortune in travel expenses over the years.

Company B’s travel policy management success

Company B’s travel program is the antithesis of Company A’s. Let’s look at Company B’s travel policy management:

  • Executive buy-in: this is self-explanatory. The corporate officers and the mailroom clerks are expected to adhere to corporate travel policy.
  • Organic policy: The travel policy is regularly reviewed and updated. It is organic in that it reflects the corporate culture and the travellers. The Corporate B culture is one based on collaboration and a willingness to listen to its constituents when developing and updating policy.
  • Communication: Company B’s travel policy is published on the intranet and is available to all employees 24/7. It is simply written, divided into logical travel sections (air travel, lodging, entertainment, etc.)  Each section clearly defines what is in-and out-of-policy behaviour, and travel restrictions.

The travel policy is not hierarchical – executives and non-exempts travel by the same rules. There also are clearly stated, regularly updated approval workflows so employees know exactly who may approve what in travel arrangements and reimbursement.

Company B also invites and responds to employee feedback.

Gamification meets the travel program

Company A will probably continue to trudge along its outdated travel policy path, losing money in the doing. Company B’s leadership is astute in following the business travel policy paradigm shift triggered, in part, by their travelling Gen X and Millennials employees.

Incentivizing gamification systems appeal to younger, technology-sophisticated travellers. This rewards system is being utilized to motivate employees toward compliance with business travel policies by giving employees tangible rewards. Gamification engages travellers in modern ways to “make smart booking decisions.” 

Changing the business travel paradigm

Business travel is often hectic and stressful from the departure of the plan right down to preparing the post-travel expense reports. Companies that look to engagement programs like gamification may be able to create a more friendly travel policy management experience. They may not only achieve higher policy adherence and cost savings, but also reduce some of the stress on their frequent travellers.