How fresh is your travel policy?

We're delighted to bring you this guest post from one of our partners, The Lyndon Group. Read on for their take on what your travel policy says about your organization and Oren's tips on giving that policy a makeover.

 

The fact that you’re scrolling through this blog tells me that you already know the immense value of a powerful, modern travel and expense management tool like Concur. Implementing Concur can certainly solve a lot of problems for a small business. But here’s a dirty little secret: often, the weakest link in a company’s travel and expense management strategy isn’t their process, it’s their policy.

As a Travel & Expense Management Consultant, I’ve seen pretty much every type of expense policy there is. I’ve walked into meetings with some clients where they hand me a single piece of paper with typo-riddled text, shrug their shoulders, and expect miracles. In other cases, they slam a dusty 50-page booklet on the table and declare that they’ve considered every possible scenario and contingency.

The sweet-spot, I assure you, is somewhere in the middle.

A company’s Travel and Expense policy should be more than just a document full of rules and restrictions. A well-written policy is also a statement of values, a guideline that should reflect the culture and principles of the company. The policy also helps define the relationship of mutual obligations between employer and employee.

Here are a few things that you might want to think about when crafting your company’s Travel and Expense policy:

Collaboration is key. Don’t work in a vacuum.

Probably one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is creating a policy from a single perspective. Usually this happens when someone in Finance or Legal is assigned the task without context. But a Travel Policy touches almost every aspect of the business, so it really takes a village to create a robust one.

Certainly you should invite feedback from your Finance, Procurement, Legal, and HR teams about the policy. But it probably wouldn’t hurt to ask your frequent travelers to be part of the process, either. Remember, those are the folks who will complain the loudest down the road if they don’t like something. If you make them part of the process up front you may not only learn a thing or two, but you’ll also (hopefully) prevent them from complaining later, as well.

More from our Newsroom: Watch a Concur solutions product demo

Understand the impact of travel on your employee.

There are few aspects of modern workday life that are more personal to the average employee than their business-travel experience. Sometimes that sensitivity is about sweet travel perks. I’ve seen some people who are as rabidly loyal to their preferred airline as they are to their favorite sports team. In other cases, it’s about simple comfort. Some travelers, myself included, would rather ride in the luggage compartment than squeeze their bulk into a standard middle seat in Coach.

Look, I understand. You’re running a small business and you want to save money wherever you can. You have to send people on business trips to sell your product or service, that’s a given, and you want to do it affordably. But have you considered how much a bad travel experience can negatively impact an employee’s performance? I’m willing to bet a lost sale due to your employee’s surly attitude is far costlier to the business than an upgrade to Premium Economy would have been.

Make Duty of Care a centerpiece of your policy.

Let’s be brutally honest. The world we live in can be a pretty perilous place. There are far too many disasters of both the natural and man-made varieties to ignore. If your business requires any of your employees to travel, then you could be inadvertently sending them into the maw of danger. You have a special obligation to those traveling employees, a promise to try to return them home safely to their friends and family. That duty to your employee should be explicitly addressed in your Travel Policy.

In this regard, your Policy is more than just a guideline, it’s an action-list for risk-mitigation. The employee needs to understand that while traveling for business, they are able to rely on their company’s assistance in the case of emergency. On the other hand, a company needs to have visibility to wherever in the world their employees are traveling. Services like Concur Messaging do a great job in helping companies know where their employees are at any given time, and enable emergency communication with the employees in times of need. Your policy should be the security blanket for your employees, giving them peace of mind while traveling.

More from our Newsroom: Best practices for handling duty of care

Keep it fresh.

The world around us changes, and your policy should change with it. Ten years ago, Uber and Lyft were not really a thing, but they sure as heck are now. In another ten years, we’ll need to write policies around hyperloops and sub-orbital jets. I highly recommend, at the very least, that you make a point of taking a look at the policy once a year and updating it to fit the trends of the world.

Of course, all of this is just part of the policy picture. In the end, it should be your company’s culture that informs the strength, breadth, and personality of your Travel and Expense policy.
 

Founded in 2000, Lyndon Group is an accounting, travel and expense, IT and business advisory professional services firm specializing in project-based engagements. We serve both public and private companies and our clients have ranged from Fortune 50 companies to emerging growth, no revenue start-ups. Our reputation and success is built on a tradition of exceptional quality service, value and results.

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