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If you haven’t looked at your travel policies recently, you might want to dust them off today. They could mean the difference between hiring a team of winners and a team of wannabes.

American job seekers have caught an incredible break. With unemployment hovering around 4 percent, top talent has the upper hand during employment negotiations. Accordingly, candidates are exercising their rights to be pickier than ever. They aren’t just looking at compensation packages when making moves — they are leveraging their power in the labor market to ask companies for more.

One thing candidates are interested in: favorable travel policies. According to a study from Global Business Travel Association, 59 percent of candidates in North America say travel policies affect their employment decisions. Your company won’t be competitive in a hiring market without updated, employee-centric policies.

Understanding the Burn and Churn of Travel

Why has travel become a primary differentiator for job seekers? For starters, employees in nearly every industry want better work/life balance. Those who have traveled for work know that it can be a high-stress endeavor, thanks to uncomfortable arrangements, unplanned delays, and company-imposed limitations. These candidates would rather work for employers who prioritize their needs during business travel.

Recent advances have made personal travel easier than ever, and employees want that ease to rub off on their professional experiences, too. Seasoned road warriors in particular want to join companies that utilize leading technologies to make travel more efficient and comfortable.

The direct benefit of revamped travel policies is increased loyalty from employees and potential hires alike. In a recent survey, 64 percent of participants said they were more likely to stay at a company that had adopted forward-thinking travel policies. Participants also said they’d be 10 percent more willing to travel if their desires were being met by corporate.

Before you begin to worry about the price tag, know that smart travel policies pay for themselves. The average business trip costs $662 in terms of productivity cut by lost time. More efficient, comfortable travel policies can erase much of this loss by allowing employees to focus on work instead of their travel woes.

Soothing the Pain of Corporate Travel

What does it take to woo professionals who have been burned by poor travel policies in the past? Each candidate is unique in their specific needs, but you’ll have a competitive advantage in the hiring process if you include all of these wish list items in your travel policies:

1. The Ability to Choose

Many people have preferences for particular airlines and hotels when traveling. Perhaps they’ve come to trust a certain vendor, or they want to rack up some loyalty points. Whatever the case, they definitely don’t want to spend the night at a cheap inn or fly with a barebones airline. Make sure your travel policies give employees freedom to select their favorites.

2. Upgrades

Access to hotel and airline loyalty programs are enticing perks for employees who must regularly travel for work. During employment negotiations, your company can sweeten any compensation deal by offering program upgrades to key employees who will benefit from these perks for business and personal travel.

For example, many hotel loyalty program members can receive room upgrades, enjoy free Wi-Fi, or choose their rooms from their phones — no more rooms next to the ice machine. You may also want to consider granting flights of six hours or longer an automatic upgrade to business class for maximum employee comfort.

3. Sweat the Small Stuff

From lost luggage to spotty Wi-Fi, travel is full of small frustrations. Businesses that take proactive steps to iron out these wrinkles will appeal to travel-conscious candidates. For instance, some startups offer to store and ship employees’ business attire, a serious perk for people constantly on the go. Additionally, reimbursing employees for expenses that improve productivity, such as Wi-Fi, makes business sense.

4. Faster Check-In

Like most of us, business travelers loathe standing in security and customs lines. Eliminate the wait by paying for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or CLEAR, or have your travel management company negotiate rate agreements with technology-forward hotels that offer digital check-in and keyless entry. Ideally, your traveling employees should spend less time standing idle and more time doing work.

5. Allow for ‘Bleisure’ Travel

Employees journeying to interesting destinations might want to stay an extra few days to do their own exploring. Create an employee-friendly policy that spells out how they can blend business and leisure (or “bleisure”) into one trip. Be sure to set and share parameters in advance to avoid confusion.

6. Make Travel Easy for Candidates, Too

First impressions count. If you’re recruiting candidates who will travel for interviews, their first experience with your company’s travel procedures should be flawless. Don’t make them pay up front for travel expenses and wait to be reimbursed. Make sure they have access to a travel counselor or user-friendly app to book their travel plans easily and quickly.

If you expect your team members to be on the road regularly, you owe it to your organization to talk about travel as part of your recruiting efforts. Not only will you be in a better position to retain your current talent, but you’ll also look incredibly attractive to incoming candidates — even those who might have several offers on the table.

Scott Hyden is the senior vice president and chief experience officer of RoomIt by CWT.



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