HR Management & Compliance

Lowering Costs and Staying Safe: Employees on the Road

It should come as no surprise that sending employees on business trips comes with quite a bit of HR baggage. From keeping track of travel expenses, to making sure your employees stay out of harm’s way, there can be quite a lot to handle.

Keeping Travel Expenses Affordable

As you likely know, travel expenses, particularly air travel, can be one of your business’s largest costs. If you want to get those costs down, you’ll have to set some guidelines for travel and effectively communicate them to your employees. Take a look at some of these cost-saving methods, broken down by travel type.


  • Require that the least expensive coach fare be used for every trip. Employees might not get there as smoothly or as comfortably, but they will get there, and these savings will add up over time.
  • Centralize ticket booking, both for cost-saving and for efficiency. This will also allow you to apply the same set of rules to everyone.
  • Create a frequent flier and bonus mile program. This program can give credit to the individual employee (and allow him or her to redeem frequent flier miles) to show that that employee’s frequent travel is appreciated.
  • Use nonrefundable tickets. It may seem counterintuitive, but these tickets are cheaper, and savings are maintained even if only 60% of the tickets are used.
  • Get employees to buy tickets as far in advance as possible to take advantage of lower rates.


  • Eliminate extensive documentation and costs by reimbursing employees for business travel car expenses at a rate below or equal to the rate allowed by the IRS; 2016’s rate is 54 cents per mile.
  • If you go above the IRS allowance rate for driving reimbursement, the IRS requires detailed documentation of the expenses—which takes time and money to manage.
  • Keep in mind that long distance business driving or constant business driving might need a more nuanced system.

Buses, Taxis, and Trains

  • Encouraging flexibility in travel options, such as allowing for buses and trains as an alternative travel option, can save a lot of money. This is especially true for travel to smaller cities.
  • Consider offering rewards or incentives to get employees to take alternate methods of travel.
  • Keep in mind that reimbursements for tolls, parking, etc., may be deducted in addition to the mileage allowance.

Other Tips

  • Encourage top executives to travel with the same set of standards applied to other employees. This helps morale and the bottom line big time.
  • Extensive and careful recordkeeping can help you locate and eliminate expense abuse or overspending.
  • Consider taking a look at your expense reporting process to make sure it’s smooth and easy to use. Employees might make expensive mistakes, or worse, when encountering a tedious, complex process.
  • Make sure that all employees know what your company’s expectations are concerning travel expenses and that you reinforce those expectations at the time of travel. Don’t just tell your employees to spend the company’s money like they spend their own money.

Steer Clear of Zika

The Zika virus is a serious concern these days. The threat to pregnant women in particular can’t be overstated. Senior Managing Editor Cathy Moreton Gray, JD, at BLR® recently wrote an article published on® concerning the Zika virus and business travel. Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Make sure to stay on top of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations when traveling abroad. This applies for the Zika virus but also for a number of other devastating diseases, like typhoid and malaria.
  • Make sure your employees take every precaution not to be bitten by mosquitoes. This includes staying in air-conditioned locations, wearing long-sleeved clothing, using effective mosquito repellant, and staying informed about mosquito threats in your travel destinations. Avoiding mosquito bites can also help prevent other serious diseases such as dengue fever.
  • Zika has been strongly linked with major birth defects, so give pregnant women the choice to not travel if they do not feel comfortable.
  • Remember, you are not allowed to force a pregnant woman not to travel, especially if you allow others to travel to those locations. Treating pregnant women differently, even if you believe you are acting in their best interests, can be seen as pregnancy discrimination.
  • You may provide a statement suggesting that all employees avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas until the CDC has lifted its travel ban. Make sure to include any and all information provided by the CDC, and direct your employees to check their website if they are considering travel.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some more general business travel safety tips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.