According to a survey by Hyatt Hotels, 75 percent of business road warriors say they enjoy travel. Paradoxically, 84 percent say they miss their families. Frequent travel can put stress on you and your family, and your employer should be concerned about it.
“It’s a buyer’s market for quality people,” says William Hendricks, author of “On the Road Again.” “So, if you’re an employer, you really have to think about the personal side of what you’re offering these folks.” The company can do much to ease life for its peripatetic personnel, and there are things travelers themselves can do. Some items for employers to consider:
– Offer travel tips and counseling services. Texas Instruments has just such a policy, according to TI’s Work/Life Coordinator, Betty Purkey.
– Reimburse employees for travel-related personal expenses. Just giving them a company credit card may not be enough. Amoco and DuPont Pharmaceuticals reimburse child-care and elder-care costs incurred because of out-of-town travel. Some firms even pay for pet care and lawn care for valued employees.
– Let frequent travelers work from home as much as possible. This provides much-needed “catch-up time” for them and can greatly reduce strain on families.
– Personalize travel perks. Sit down with your top travelers and say, “Okay, what can we do to make this easier on you?” Offer concrete suggestions such as those given above to let them know you’re serious about providing assistance and incentives.
Hendricks also suggests some tips for travelers themselves to ease the strain of separation:
– Do an “E.T.” and “phone home.” Hendricks identifies daily communication as “the most important means for keeping close when physically apart.” Focus on that phone call as you would an important business call. “Re-enter” your family’s world. Call at a good time for them, preferably a consistent time they can plan around.
– E-mail the kids. For many it’s a novelty to get e-mail, especially from Daddy or Mommy.
– Give your family a cell phone number. Even if they don’t use it, they know they can reach you directly at any time, which eases pressure. Giving them a fax number means kids can draw pictures for you and you can check homework.
– Decompress slowly. “The family gets its own ecology going while the traveler is gone,” Hendricks says. Coming home, while anticipated, still “tends to upset the apple cart.” Find out what’s gone on in their lives before you start talking.