To Care or not to Care... What is the Duty? — TripActions Community


To Care or not to Care... What is the Duty?

Something has been bothering me over the past few weeks. Its all about kindness and caring. 

What exactly does Duty of Care mean to you and your company? 

As an employee I want it to mean that you truly 'Care' about me. Everything about me.. not just where I am, and if I am at risk. But is this what duty of care really looks like at the company level? 

Does Duty of Care go deep enough? Is it even about caring or protecting a company? 

Question: How do you determine your Duty of Care approach to your travel? and importantly will this have to be adapted post-recovery from the current crisis? 

I wish someone 'cared' about my mental health when I was travelling, but alas nobody did and it meant I left the industry at crisis point. 

Comments

  • That's a very interesting point @Matman and thank you for raising it.

    What I've heard is that some organisations start to think of a notion of "care" involving both duty of care (in terms of obligations, taking care of your people on the go, involving the company's legal responsibility) AND wellness (how do travellers feel?).

    I'd also love to know how next gen duty of care/wellness programs could shape up.

  • Matt knows I fully agree with him. I'm hopeful that companies will start to pay more attention to employee mental health, especially for their "road warriors". I'm curious why it hasn't been a priority in the past? The stigma around mental health? Not wanting or knowing how to broach the subject? The "suck it up" mentality? Is it viewed as an expense vs. an investment in recruitment, productivity, and retention? I have lots of ideas how how to improve travel programs and general mental health in the workplace and would love to see more people chime in and see if we can collaborate on supporting companies that are interested in this type of initiative. The world is full of anxiety and uncertainty right now, so it will be more important than ever in the coming months.

  • Thanks @Aurelie_Krau and @meganbearce for your comments. My fear is that we are moving too slowly to address the longer term impact of mental wellbeing. We are likely to see this current crisis going on for some time, and it is highly likely that international travel will not be reopened for some time (I saw possible dates into 2021 already).

    But does that mean that a company does not have a duty of care whilst employees are grounded? Perhaps one of the big challenges of this is ownership. I think that Travel Managers will likely say that Mental wellbeing is not their responsibility as they are only looking after travel? But surely if travel has an impact on wellbeing it should be connected? Lots of things to consider.

    I personally feel that one reason the industry does not want to make this front and centre is that we are scared to think that travel can be a negative impact to our wellbeing. Truly and from personal experience I can say it has a huge impact on wellbeing.

    Now is the time for us to talk about the mental impact of travel (or not travelling for those who are happier being free and on the road).

  • It most certainly needs to be a focus now. I'm taking it as a good sign that a large HR group wants a webinar on this topic (mental health, esp under COVID) and I'm doing an interview with a large travel industry association as well. There is for sure increased anxiety and depression about job loss or insecurity, pay cuts, the stress of supporting kids around distance learning while you are trying to work from home, and a piece no one is talking about - ambiguous loss. The uncertainty about how relationships will change because of physical absence. I see this two ways- regular travelers are now home with family and their relationship now has a very different dynamic- for better or worse. The other is about what happens to those relationships built with clients, customers, and co-workers that are now changed? Layer in extrovert vs. introvert preferences and the loss of identity around ones work and the anxiety about safety once travel begins...it's a big, important topic.

  • One population is often forgotten in all I hear: single people. I'm one of them, I'm a road warrior, I don't have kids, my life is about travelling... this is what makes me happy. And I am grateful to have been able to combine my job and travel. I am no exception, I've met many people like me ;-)

    I have heard several travel managers are in the process of launching a pulse survey to understand what's on the mind of their employees/travellers, how they feel (anxious, nervous, frustrated) as part of a cross-functional team involving corporate comm's and HR. My feeling is that there is awareness but a lot of travel managers could use some guidance.

    Question for you @Matman @meganbearce : if I'm a travel manager, where should I start? And how?

  • Brilliant question @Aurelie_Krau - where should I start?

    For me there are so many individual variables in understanding each human. You quite rightly outline your world, your passions and your needs. For me this is different. I am married and have children, I enjoy travelling, but also enjoy spending time with my family. I travelled for years and in the latter part my thoughts were firmly on how quickly I could get to my meeting location, meet and get home.

    We are all different that is so true.

    So what can we do? I think this should be broken down (and it will mean going outside the lines of travel) into 3 distinct opportunities:

    Travel Managers - Review your programme (and policies) and identify - how does this encourage travellers to be/stay/return healthy and well? - Identify from the travellers what really matters to them when they travel? (you might be surprised it is not always about spending more money). - Ask what do you need, and then see where we can try to maximise the needs within the future programmes.

    Lets call this the group 'CARE WHEN YOU TRAVEL'

    Managers of Travellers - How can I encourage an open and honest conversation with my employees to understand how they are feeling? Are they fit (mentally and physically) to travel, and when they return am I encouraging them to recover well? Challenge your travellers to see if alternative options would be suitable?

    Lets call this the group 'CARE ABOUT YOU BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER YOU TRAVEL'

    Company Culture - does the company culture promote positive mental health, does it promote wellbeing at it's core, and does it encourage all employees no matter or role/title/position to be the best version of themselves that they can? Lets call this the group ''

    Lets call this the group 'CARE ABOUT YOU AS A VALUED EMPLOYEE'

    ---

    So for travel managers you represent group 1 above. We need to consider how we can support travellers to be the best version of themselves ready to do battle, to be firing for the meeting and to perform well for the company.

    If you are struggling with any of the above I am available to help raise awareness, education and support through all of these elements.

  • @Aurelie_Krau You are correct, single people often are not mentioned in these conversations which is why I make it a point to frame in my presentations the idea of how travel impacts ALL relationships. For example, when employees are newly out of school and into the job market, it's likely that many are single as are their friends and colleagues. As time goes one, some may partner and/or have children and their availability to connect when the road warrior is home becomes less. It may become harder to keep pick up leagues or book clubs or other forms of social connection going. Natural occurrences, but for a road warrior, their travel and the related toll it can take, has a bigger impact on the opportunities for that meaningful connection. On the other end of the spectrum is aging parents. The road warrior may have responsibilities or concerns related to their parents, which is another potential stressor that management might not know about. A study done by Scott Gillespie and his team found the highest reported incidences of road warrior trip friction anxiety was reported by those around age 40. To me this makes sense because of what I just mentioned and that a parent might be missing their children, strain on a marriage, and so many other life events that happen in ones 40's.

    My initial thought is exactly what you mention- Ask the employees! I did a quick survey of some road warriors and many questions had opposite responses. For example, what time of day do you prefer to fly and why? A woman's response was early morning because she didn't like arriving late at night (safety) and it gave her more time at home (family). A male traveler said evenings because he felt his performance was impacted by an extremely early wake up time to get to the airport. My impression in speaking to others in the industry is that very few ask the travelers about the human side of travel and especially with mental health, employees may not know if it's safe to fully disclose. Even if a company has asked in the past, given COVID-19, employees' anxiety around business travel likely has changed. This to me seems like a great opportunity to talk about workplace mental health and encourage creative and honest conversations about new ways of taking care of employees.

    Do the road warriors have access to the same level of Employee Wellness program opportunities that non-travel employees have? Ask them what they think could have the biggest impact and then work together. 

    Being at home has led to not only more zoom calls, but also more time to reflect on what’s important and what one values in life. As the world comes back on-line, I think the way a company managed their workforce and the corporate culture they foster going forward will become more important to employees and potential new hires. I love having these conversations and hope to be a resource to companies wanting to take a closer look at not only their travel polices, but their overall workplace mental health initiatives as well. @Matman great points as always!

  • @Aurelie_Krau You are correct, single people often are not mentioned in these conversations which is why I make it a point to frame in my presentations the idea of how travel impacts ALL relationships. For example, when employees are newly out of school and into the job market, it's likely that many are single as are their friends and colleagues. As time goes one, some may partner and/or have children and their availability to connect when the road warrior is home becomes less. It may become harder to keep pick up leagues or book clubs or other forms of social connection going. Natural occurrences, but for a road warrior, their travel and the related toll it can take, has a bigger impact on the opportunities for that meaningful connection. On the other end of the spectrum is aging parents. The road warrior may have responsibilities or concerns related to their parents, which is another potential stressor that management might not know about. A study done by Scott Gillespie and his team found the highest reported incidences of road warrior trip friction anxiety was reported by those around age 40. To me this makes sense because of what I just mentioned and that a parent might be missing their children, strain on a marriage, and so many other life events that happen in ones 40's.

    My initial thought is exactly what you mention- Ask the employees! I did a quick survey of some road warriors and many questions had opposite responses. For example, what time of day do you prefer to fly and why? A woman's response was early morning because she didn't like arriving late at night (safety) and it gave her more time at home (family). A male traveler said evenings because he felt his performance was impacted by an extremely early wake up time to get to the airport. My impression in speaking to others in the industry is that very few ask the travelers about the human side of travel and especially with mental health, employees may not know if it's safe to fully disclose. Even if a company has asked in the past, given COVID-19, employees' anxiety around business travel likely has changed. This to me seems like a great opportunity to talk about workplace mental health and encourage creative and honest conversations about new ways of taking care of employees. 1/2

  • 2/2 Do the road warriors have access to the same level of Employee Wellness program opportunities that non-travel employees have? Ask them what they think could have the biggest impact and then work together. 

    Being at home has led to not only more zoom calls, but also more time to reflect on what’s important and what one values in life. As the world comes back on-line, I think the way a company managed their workforce and the corporate culture they foster going forward will become more important to employees and potential new hires. I love having these conversations and hope to be a resource to companies wanting to take a closer look at not only their travel polices, but their overall workplace mental health initiatives as well. @Matman great points as always!

  • Thank you for starting this conversation in here @Matman . I enjoyed reading what you, @Aurelie_Krau and @meganbearce were saying.

    I completely agree with you all. There is no better time than right now to start talking about what needs to happen to prioritize road warrior wellbeing on a deeper level than canceled flights, hotel rooms, and airport lounges.

    You nailed it with company culture. Does the company have a culture that embraces employees as human beings, meaning do they care about their mental health, personal goals, stresses, fears, concerns, and health issues? Do travel managers really care about their travelers or just the routine basics and expectations already set in place? What flexibility does the traveler have? What options and personal time are they allowed? How are their personal obstacles, stresses, and needs addressed and what is offered? Does the company support and encourage travelers to have an experience that transform their mind, body, and soul and improves their wellbeing rather than harming it?

    Travel is attractive to many people, we are innate travelers. Newly graduated students entering the hospitality and tourism industry are drawn to jobs that enable them to travel for business. Who doesn't, right? It sounds great. The problem is, not everyone is a travel expert, most people aren't, and therefore, when you're trained to do your job role but not how to be a effecient traveler, that's when burnout and overwhelm can set in. People need to provided with the proper tools, resources, support, and guidance before, during, and after their trips so they can maximize on their experiences, consequently thriving in their wellbeing and professional success.

    Another issue that I have is perceived definition of the words "personalize" and "experience". A personalized trip doesn't mean using a preferred hotel chain, flying first class, or having a preferred isle or window seat on a plane, those are expected by business travelers, no personalize experiences. An "experience" doesn't mean how quick and seamlessly they get to the airport, through security, and check into their hotel. Again, those are expected. Duty of Care doesn't mean having a 24/7 support team to talk to or a plan in place for a flight cancellation or delay, those too are expected.

    Where the differentiation lays is in HOW they are supported, WHAT they are supplied and prepared with, and WHY they should continue on as a business traveler in that company. The sum of all of these should equate back to them as a human being, their mental wellbeing, their physical wellbeing, their personal wants, needs, and goals, and experiences that actually help them thrive as a person and a professional.

    I have always been intrigued by the decades of research that proves the various health benefits (mental health, staying fit and active, improving brain health, boosting immunity, decreasing stress and anxiety, etc) and the professional benefits (creativity, productivity, work performance, engagement, etc) that travel can provide.

    Providing proper tools and resources that educate, empower, and encourage travelers to use their travel experiences to improve their wellbeing, help them reach those business goals, improve as a professional, and transform their life and wellbeing in some way, is going to be a key ingredient to the new shift in business travel.

    Once travel is safe and responsible to resume, I strongly believe in the power that truly caring for the overall wellbeing for the business traveler will have on the resiliency and company success.

  • Love your points on "personalization" and "experience" @SaharaRose - I agree. In that sense, I'd suggest travel managers to engage with their travelers to understand the demand and then work even more closely with suppliers to build more strategic relationships and build more value for the benefit of employees/travelers.

    @meganbearce thanks for factoring in this population. There's also the population in their 30s who is in-between. I personally cannot relate to most things I read or hear because I feel very different.

    @Matman this should provide a good starting point for travel managers.

    Now the question is: how to measure this to make it actionable?

  • @Aurelie_Krau You are correct, single people often are not mentioned in these conversations which is why I make it a point to frame in my presentations the idea of how travel impacts ALL relationships. For example, when employees are newly out of school and into the job market, it's likely that many are single as are their friends and colleagues. As time goes one, some may partner and/or have children and their availability to connect when the road warrior is home becomes less. It may become harder to keep pick up leagues or book clubs or other forms of social connection going. Natural occurrences, but for a road warrior, their travel and the related toll it can take, has a bigger impact on the opportunities for that meaningful connection. On the other end of the spectrum is aging parents. The road warrior may have responsibilities or concerns related to their parents, which is another potential stressor that management might not know about. A study done by Scott Gillespie and his team found the highest reported incidences of road warrior trip friction anxiety was reported by those around age 40. To me this makes sense because of what I just mentioned and that a parent might be missing their children, strain on a marriage, and so many other life events that happen in ones 40's.

    My initial thought is exactly what you mention- Ask the employees! I did a quick survey of some road warriors and many questions had opposite responses. For example, what time of day do you prefer to fly and why? A woman's response was early morning because she didn't like arriving late at night (safety) and it gave her more time at home (family). A male traveler said evenings because he felt his performance was impacted by an extremely early wake up time to get to the airport. My impression in speaking to others in the industry is that very few ask the travelers about the human side of travel and especially with mental health, employees may not know if it's safe to fully disclose. Even if a company has asked in the past, given COVID-19, employees' anxiety around business travel likely has changed. This to me seems like a great opportunity to talk about workplace mental health and encourage creative and honest conversations about new ways of taking care of employees.

    Do the road warriors have access to the same level of Employee Wellness program opportunities that non-travel employees have? Ask them what they think could have the biggest impact and then work together. 


    Being at home has led to not only more zoom calls, but also more time to reflect on what’s important and what one values in life. As the world comes back on-line, I think the way a company managed their workforce and the corporate culture they foster going forward will become more important to employees and potential new hires. I love having these conversations and hope to be a resource to companies wanting to take a closer look at not only their travel polices, but their overall workplace mental health initiatives as well. @Matman great points as always!

  • @Aurelie_Krau You are correct, single people often are not mentioned in these conversations which is why I make it a point to frame in my presentations the idea of how travel impacts ALL relationships. For example, when employees are newly out of school and into the job market, it's likely that many are single as are their friends and colleagues. As time goes one, some may partner and/or have children and their availability to connect when the road warrior is home becomes less. It may become harder to keep pick up leagues or book clubs or other forms of social connection going. Natural occurrences, but for a road warrior, their travel and the related toll it can take, has a bigger impact on the opportunities for that meaningful connection. On the other end of the spectrum is aging parents. The road warrior may have responsibilities or concerns related to their parents, which is another potential stressor that management might not know about. A study done by Scott Gillespie and his team found the highest reported incidences of road warrior trip friction anxiety was reported by those around age 40. To me this makes sense because of what I just mentioned and that a parent might be missing their children, strain on a marriage, and so many other life events that happen in ones 40's.

    My initial thought is exactly what you mention- Ask the employees! I did a quick survey of some road warriors and many questions had opposite responses. For example, what time of day do you prefer to fly and why? A woman's response was early morning because she didn't like arriving late at night (safety) and it gave her more time at home (family). A male traveler said evenings because he felt his performance was impacted by an extremely early wake up time to get to the airport. My impression in speaking to others in the industry is that very few ask the travelers about the human side of travel and especially with mental health, employees may not know if it's safe to fully disclose. Even if a company has asked in the past, given COVID-19, employees' anxiety around business travel likely has changed. This to me seems like a great opportunity to talk about workplace mental health and encourage creative and honest conversations about new ways of taking care of employees.

    Do the road warriors have access to the same level of Employee Wellness program opportunities that non-travel employees have? Ask them what they think could have the biggest impact and then work together. 


    Being at home has led to not only more zoom calls, but also more time to reflect on what’s important and what one values in life. As the world comes back on-line, I think the way a company managed their workforce and the corporate culture they foster going forward will become more important to employees and potential new hires. I love having these conversations and hope to be a resource to companies wanting to take a closer look at not only their travel polices, but their overall workplace mental health initiatives as well. @Matman great points as always!

  • I agree @meganbearce - each individual is going to have different concerns and preferences, which is why engagement is key -more than ever! As much as travel managers should maintain a dialogue with their third party suppliers, they should create this "safe space" internally for their people for various reasons. You named several of them, which are "caring" about them in the simplest way, company culture and also talent acquisition/retention.

  • This is such an excellent discussion! I have another 'traveler avatar' to consider. Many people assume - young and single - they love to travel, want to travel, and aren't missing anything by their road warrior lifestyle, however I have a friend who is 52, never married, has found it hard to be in long term relationships, and declares traveling for twenty years to play a strong role in that. Even for me, having moved three times to different cities while traveling heavily for work, found that it took me a very long time to make friends because I was only home on the weekends and often had to use that time to catch up with the things I missed out on during the week like grocery shopping, errands, etc. I was rarely able to join book clubs, meet-ups, etc. because people would get annoyed with my schedule.

    We can no longer make assumptions about what a demographic needs or wants.

  • I definitely agree @WorkWellPlayMore

    The word "personalization" needs to be redefined in business travel, as does the term "tailored experiences".

    The idea of extending trips or increased flexibility and experiences intrigues me. Bleisure was something that was being toyed with before COVID hit, I'm curious to see what that looks like in the future.

    My beliefs are that HR and Travel Managers need to work more closely on really getting to understand travelers was individuals with their own wants, needs, obstacles, problems, fears, health concerns, goals, etc. Business travel is essential to company success: human connection, innovation, well-rounded employees, so it's a huge task of figuring out how managers can enrich experiences that improve mental and overall health rather than contribute to burnout and provide a more personal balance for each individual. Because like you said, we can no longer make assumptions about what a demographic needs or wants.

    Research shows the various wellness and work performance benefits that travel can provide, it think the future of business travel involves including these.

  • Thank you all for the discussions here. It is such an important topic RIGHT NOW and we have this moment to stop and think about how the travel of the future will work for the individual.

    @Aurelie_Krau you mentioned 'travel managers to engage with their travellers to understand the demand and then work even more closely with suppliers to build more strategic relationships and build more value for the benefit of employees/travellers.'

    This is such an important element of how we can move the conversation forward. What we really need to do with this is understand how travellers think, feel and behave. If we know that there are populations who act in a certain way (namely go to the hotel and staying in their room) we can ask ourselves why this is happening? There are many reasons for this of course - safety, security, social anxiety, unknown locations and so on... once we can identify this trend we can then become smarter in the way we provide the services for the traveller. Personally I spent many evenings in my hotel room, ordering room service, and literally looking at the clock working out how many hours it was until my next meeting.

    We need to ask the right questions.

    It would be great to have some insights from Corporates/Travel Managers as to their interpretation of this conversation thread.

  • Indeed, @Matman more than ever it's ENGAGEMENT that we need. 1:1 prevails and I fully agree: we need to ask the right questions but above all we need to LISTEN instead of asking and talking.

    This also raises the question of what skill set is required for travel managers to support this.

    On a personal note: it's interesting how different we are: I only stay in my room if I have work to do. I don't like room service -only if I have to. I'd rather explore local food options and 'feel' the city I'm visiting! Even if it means bringing my laptop with me and work, but at least I see something else than the 4 walls of my accommodation! This is also why I value bleisure so much... having time to explore the city without the pressure of the deliverable (prepare your meeting, rehearse etc).

  • @Aurelie_Krau I think you touch on a key point that many business travellers today are feeling... Pressure. I always remember when I was a frequent traveller between the US and UK that I felt much more pressure when I was in the US. The reason was that there was two work days rolled into one. I would be on early working Europe time, and then be in the office in the US from 8am- 6/7pm.

    I know this was a personal choice, but I did feel the pressure to do this. One of the challenges of course with traveling for work is that the day job (emails, calls and so on) is still there. Emails pile up during meetings/travel and then we start to feel overwhelmed.

    Maybe there is a simple option that we can implement for more impact, and to help reduce that pressure? (which then builds more stress and anxiety).

  • For better or for worse COVID-19 has "opened the eyes" of many individuals, companies, and managers to how certain sections or sub-sections (lack of a better term) of the populations feel and cope with life. For example, having gone through COVID-19 I have greater empathy and understanding of others and workers that might have certain health challenges (including mental health) than I did before. Perhaps this is a little naive to say but this experience has helped me understand their challenges just a bit better and as such hopefully I'll respond more appropriately to their needs and concerns that perhaps I did previously. I imagine there will be many that will "hesitate" before jumping on an airplane to head to another business meeting/conference in the next months. I hope to be able to understand their hesitations and provide some type support system as they resume their somewhat normal business travel schedules. (I hope this rambling somewhat made sense.)

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