Business travel stress is something that one in every four business travelers in the United States experiences (Jacob, 2002). The predominant causes of such stress include spending time away from their family and worrying about work piling up at the office. Whereas stress symptoms such as substance abuse traditionally were viewed as personal problems, organizations increasingly take on some responsibilities for stress reduction due to business travel.
Preparing the traveler properly fir business travel can significantly reduce opportunities for stress. Double checking all flight and hotel reservations for the person would help. Finding out that a flight has been delayed or that a hotel room wasn’t guaranteed for late arrival and was given to someone else can be incredibly stressful.
Making arrangements for the person’s messages to be delivered to him/her on the road can help the employee keep the crises to a minimum, as well, and keep him/her from feeling overwhelmed when he/she walks back to the office for the first time on the day the traveler returns. Likewise, a private number for traveling employees to use for family contacts could be provided, so that the person can reach their family wherever they are.
An on-site convenience store for travelers to pick up last-minute travel items like hosiery, shaving cream and snacks would also be recommendable. A policy which provides a day or two off for employees who have been on the road for sixty days could moreover reduce business travel-related stress, given for the purpose of reacquainting the traveler with his/her family and catch up on personal errands and tasks.
While the organization may get their business traveler to his/her destination more cheaply through a budget flight, there are some drawbacks that ultimately cause stress to the individual. Budget flights are definitely ‘no frills’ affair. The seats tend to be the smaller economy class-seating, and the in-flight service – if there is any, is not usually free. Special meals such as kosher, halal and those catering for different diets are not available.
Additionally, if there is another leg on the route, the traveler will probably have to pick up his/her baggage and get it checked again at the point of transit. These drawbacks add to the hassle of traveling in itself and the work ahead of the traveler in his/her destination, thus aggravating stress for the employee designated to take the business traveling duty.
Using cheaper hotels and motels that are less oriented to the business traveler can add to the stress of a business traveler because of the high probability of the hotel or motel: (1) not having a twenty-four hour room service; (2) closed housekeeping and the traveler cannot get an iron and an ironing board; (3) no fax machine thus cannot receive fax for the traveler, or, if there is a fax machine, do not deliver it to the traveler’s room – a big stress booster if a crisis flares up and the individual needs to look at hard copies of documents; and (4) bad food preparations. Getting to the destination of business can be stressful in itself, and the individual does not clearly need the exacerbation of bad motel or hotel service just because the organization decided to scrape off a few dollars off the traveling budget.
Potential stressors can often operate prior to actually taking a trip. Travel briefing can be stressful for the sheer reason of great expectations being put on the shoulders of the business traveler. Knowledge of the problems or situations to be dealt on the business destination can likewise be stressors. Juggling the upcoming schedule with the current schedule as well as the agenda after the business trip can be potential stressors as well. On the actual day of flying, the travel actually starts before the employee even leave home.
So does the stress. Working at the office until the last possible moment, careening through traffic to get home and forgetting something due to the haste in packing are three potential pre-trip stressors. Further along, finding out that the flight has been delayed, or worse yet, cancelled, may be an added inconvenience. Arranging a proper balance of leisure or rest time in a busy traveling schedule is essential so that the traveler can perform optimally and within a reasonable comfort zone.
Jacob, P. (2002). The Ecology of the New Economy: Sustainable Transformation of Global Information, Communication and Electronics Industries. Sheffield, United Kingdom: Greenleaf Publishing Limited.