Business travelers should focus on how travel affects health — and how to make healthy decisions while away from the office.
Business travel can be bad for your health — if you don’t take the right precautions. Traveling for work can be rewarding, adventurous and even fun. In some cases, work travel is a unique chance for employees to see different parts of the country and world. But, over time, work travel can also negatively affect your personal health.
Several recent studies highlight the most prevalent ways that business travel can be bad for your health. Below, see a list of the 4 most pressing travel-related health concerns — as well as tips for how companies and their traveling team members can avoid them.
Obesity is a natural outcome of regular business travel for 2 reasons.
First, it’s difficult to eat well when traveling for business. Airports are typically packed with unhealthy food options, and time spent in distant cities can be filled with steakhouse dinners and drinks.
At the same time, getting any sort of physical activity while traveling for work can be difficult. There’s little time to spend working out, and it can be a pain to find space for athletic shoes and workout clothing when you’re packing light for a quick trip.
Companies can help employees avoid obesity by booking hotels with workout facilities. In fact, some hotels even lend workout-friendly shoes and clothing to their guests. Traveling employees can help themselves by packing nutritious, filling snacks that allow them avoid unhealthy airport options.
Also, making workouts a priority is so important. When you first check in to a hotel, stop by the fitness center — just seeing it and knowing what to expect make it more likely you’ll use it later. Plan to workout first thing in the morning before you get caught up in the flow of the workday.
2. Anxiety, Stress and Depression
A World Bank study shows that business travelers experience a dramatic increase in insurance claims for stress-related disorders. Why is traveling for business so stressful? Several reasons, including:
- It gets employees out of their at-home routines
- It is next to impossible to stay on top of email and work while traveling
- Lost luggage, delays and other travel inconveniences are stress-inducing
No company can completely eradicate the stresses related to work travel. But there are several things a company can do to limit travel-related stress and its resulting anxiety and depression:
- Encourage Health and Wellness: As noted above, employees will feel better when they are eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep. The same things a company can do to limit obesity can also help with stress, anxiety and depression.
- Create Stress-Reducing Itineraries: Some work travel itineraries call for multiple legs, one-day trips, short layovers, budget hotels and other things that make travel more stressful. Any company can take small steps toward making travelers less stressed and more comfortable during trips, including limiting the number of legs on any given trip, leaving plenty of time for connections, booking hotels with needed amenities, etc.
- Make Travel Processes Simple: When you make booking simple and when you make filing expenses easy, work travel is far less stressful for your team members.
And, finally, make sure employees feel comfortable talking about the stresses of business travel. Stress awareness is vitally important for your employees who are on the road week after week. If and when the grind is catching up with them, your employees should feel comfortable letting you know — and comfortable taking a short break.
3. Smoking and Alcohol Dependence
Work travel predisposes your employees to develop poor habits like smoking and alcohol dependency. Work travel can be stressful, and your employees are away from friends, family and routines while traveling for work — which can naturally lead to these bad habits.
Education is your company’s best way to help your traveling team members. Let them know that they are predisposed to making these poor health decisions, and provide ideas and alternatives that will help them develop healthier travel habits and make better decisions while away from the office.
4. Sleep Issues
It’s no wonder that sleep issues are common among traveling employees. Employees often take early morning or late night flights, and they sometimes traverse multiple time zones when getting from one city to another.
Many of the same tips for reducing stress and anxiety also apply when promoting quality sleep among your traveling employees. Give your team members as much leeway as possible when creating itineraries — schedules that give them plenty of time for sleep. And, also, educate your team members on how to use healthy sleep aids like melatonin.
Make the Most of Your Investment in Business Travel
Yes, business travel can be bad for your health — and your health is nothing to neglect. At JTB Business Travel, we are a corporate travel agency that provides an array of services to companies of all sizes. Our services help businesses make the most of their investment in travel, while also helping travelers enjoy itineraries and experiences that promote productivity, comfort and wellness.