- 47% of UK employees who travel regularly for business say travel is an enjoyable aspect of their job, and 15% say it’s a key reason for doing their job
- Over three quarters of employees (76%) believe business travel helps them be more effective at work
- 24% would like more flexible work schedules to support them when travelling for business
Travelling for work is good for business and personal satisfaction, but shifting lines between business and leisure means UK employees seek a more seamless integration of business travel into their lives, according to new research on traveller well-being from American Express.
The Balanced Business Traveller survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of American Express, engaged business travellers across Europe to understand how business travel affects their personal well being and their attitude to work, as well as how it impacts business performance.
The survey highlights how many travellers are taking steps to really get the most out of work trips, blending business with leisure activities such as meeting friends (29%), sightseeing (44%) and sampling local cuisine (57%). But to truly unlock the benefits of business travel, employers need to equip their travellers with greater flexibility and a wider range of tools to manage their trip experience.
The survey’s UK findings include:
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Business travel carries status and is a key factor in job choice
Business travel is personally fulfilling and plays an important role in the jobs employees choose, with 15% of those surveyed saying that the opportunity to travel for work is a key reason for doing their job. A further 47% of employees who travel regularly say travel is an enjoyable aspect of their job. Just 6% said business travel has a significant negative impact.
Travel is also a key factor in job satisfaction and carries status for employees. When asked by their employer to travel, respondents said that this was most likely to generate feelings of excitement (33%), feeling valued and proud (31%). Just 19% feel stressed when asked to go on a business trip.
While travel can sometimes be disruptive for employees, 31% would be in favour of spending more time travelling each month.
Travelling for work is good for business, making employees more effective at work
Even in today’s connected business landscape, the vast majority (76%) of UK regular business travellers believe the personal interactions facilitated through work trips makes them more effective at work, and 40% go so far as to say that it ‘helps a lot’. They cite the top business advantages of travelling to attend face to face as the ability building relationships and trust (40%), followed by achieving more through personal interactions (i.e. working effectively) (23%) and finding it easier to communicate complex topics (18%).
From the perspective of professional enjoyment, over half welcome business travel as a way to achieve diversity in working life (58%), and 49% enjoy the ability meet with colleagues and clients face to face.
Travellers are making the most of business trips through personal activities
Across all four European markets surveyed in total, ‘active travellers’ who combine business with leisure activities such as sightseeing are most positive about business travel. 92% say business travel helps them do their jobs more effectively (versus 84% of all respondents) and 59% say it is an enjoyable aspect of my job (versus 47% of all respondents).
If UK travellers are able to integrate leisure into their work trips their top activities were sampling local cuisine (57%), visiting cultural sites such as museums or galleries (54%) or simply finding a spot to people watch (48%).
How employers can help travellers find a better balance
When it comes to the support afforded to business travellers by their employers, greater flexibility is key – for example, 24% of employees who travel regularly for work would like more flexibility, such as ‘time in lieu’ for travel. Travellers also want tools to make life easier on the road, for example a corporate card (24%) and a self-booking mobile tool (22%).
Employers need to pay attention to millennials (aged 18-34). The overall research – undertaken across four European countries – finds millennial business travellers are driving the rise of ‘bleisure’, where employees seek harmonious ‘work-life integration’ rather than work-life balance: 35% of millennial business travellers want their company to allow the ability to add leisure onto business trips compared with 29% of older travellers aged 35+. In addition, millennials are more likely to want employers to offer greater flexibility such as time in lieu in return for more business travel (38% vs. 30% of older travellers aged 35+).
Business travel in the future
Commenting on the findings, Tony Crabbe, a business psychologist who analysed the findings of the survey said: “We know from the overall research that those employees who go out sightseeing and who seek to experience the culture and city they visit, are more likely to also enjoy business travel, to see it as valuable in their role and be positive about doing more travel in the future. In the UK, we’re seeing travellers seize the opportunities business trips offer, with almost half experiencing the local culture in their free time.”
Jose Carvalho, Senior Vice President, Global Commercial Payments Europe, American Express, commented, “The survey demonstrates that employees find business travel valuable for both job satisfaction and personal fulfilment, and even in today’s digital age, the personal connections built through face-to-face meetings continue to play a fundamental role in driving business performance.
“With millennials representing a growing proportion of the workforce, the emphasis is now on employers to look at how to enhance the business travel experience in a way which reflects their appetite for efficient processes, flexibility and a more integrated approach to work and leisure. It’s important to recognise that business travel is no longer just about business and for that reason millennials want it to be as smooth and personally rewarding as possible.”