Learning & Development

Incorporating Bleisure into Your Business Travel Policy

Bleisure travel has become a popular trend in the business world, offering professionals the opportunity to blend work and leisure seamlessly.

Bleisure can help create better work/life balance for employees. It can promote employee satisfaction and result in a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce and is a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent.

As more professionals seek to maximize their travel experiences, HR professionals and executives responsible for business travel need to clearly understand the considerations that go into the formulation and implementation of an effective policy for bleisure while maintaining fiscal responsibility to their company.

Initial Research and Considerations

Initial research and considerations before incorporating bleisure into a company’s travel policy include:

Internal assessment: Examine internal characteristics, resources, culture, and objectives to lay the foundation for policy formulation. Survey or conduct focus groups to gather insights on the preferences of the employees who frequently travel for business.

Risk assessment and risk tolerance: Evaluate the potential risks and challenges associated with bleisure travel, such as liability issues. Understand the company’s risk tolerance levels and insurance coverage requirements to ensure the company is adequately protected.

Duty of care: Evaluate impacts on meeting duty-of-care obligations and the safety, health, and well-being of employees, including adopting pre-travel risk assessments, monitoring, and incident response mechanisms.

Cost-benefit analysis: Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to understand the financial implications of incorporating bleisure travel. Consider benefits such as increased employee satisfaction and productivity, employee retention, and potential cost savings from extended stays.

Legal and tax considerations: Consult with legal and tax experts to understand any legal or tax implications of incorporating bleisure travel.

Travel Policy and Procedures

Establishing well-defined travel policies is the foundation for ensuring employee safety during bleisure trips. These policies should outline guidelines and restrictions and clearly state the company’s expectations. Travel policy and procedures for bleisure should include:

Eligibility and restrictions: Define the criteria for employees to be eligible for bleisure travel. Define any restrictions, such as limitations on the duration of leisure activities, the types of activities allowed, or specific destinations where bleisure isn’t permitted due to safety concerns.

Pre-travel risk assessment process: It’s vital to conduct thorough research before travel, particularly when evaluating the suitability of a location for bleisure travel. Sharing information with employees regarding factors such as political stability, healthcare infrastructure, and crime rates empowers them to make informed decisions regarding their safety and well-being.

Approval process: Establish a clear approval process for bleisure travel that includes an evaluation of the business purpose of the trip and the proposed bleisure activities. This ensures the primary focus remains on business objectives while allowing employees to incorporate leisure activities within reasonable boundaries. Define who has the authority to approve or deny requests for bleisure. Ensure the process is transparent, consistent, and aligned with the company’s travel policy.

Safety and security guidelines: Develop safety and security guidelines specific to bleisure travel. This should include information on assessing the safety of leisure activities and guidelines for avoiding risky situations. Encourage employees to prioritize their safety, and provide emergency contact and incident response procedures.

Partnerships and vendors: Build partnerships with vendors to optimize costs while enhancing the overall travel experience for employees. These can include hotels or serviced apartment providers that offer competitive rates for extended stays.

Expense and allocation policies: Develop transparent limits, guidelines, and policies regarding how expenses will be allocated between the employee and the employer. For example, specify which portion of the transportation and accommodation cost will be borne by the employer and the employee. Clearly communicate the guidelines to avoid ambiguity and misunderstandings.

Reimbursement and documentation procedures: Establish a clear and efficient reimbursement process outlining the documentation required, submission deadlines, and approval procedures. Set expectations for accurate reporting and recordkeeping to ensure compliance with internal and external audit requirements.

Expense auditing: Implement an expense auditing process, with regular reviews of expense reports, to ensure compliance with policies and prevent misuse of company funds.

Training and Education

The training and education of various stakeholders within the organization is important to ensure effective implementation of the bleisure policy.

Executives and managers: Train management on the benefits and considerations of incorporating bleisure travel. This ensures they can make informed decisions when approving bleisure requests and understand how to support their employees during these trips.

HR: Train HR personnel on the details of the bleisure policy and procedures. They play a crucial role in communicating the policy to employees, answering questions, and providing guidance on policy implementation.

Travel coordinators: Train travel coordinators on the procedures and requirements related to bleisure travel. Ensure they have the necessary knowledge and resources to assist employees in planning and arranging their bleisure trips effectively.

Employees: Conduct training sessions or workshops to educate employees on the policy and guidelines, expense management, and the responsibilities associated with incorporating leisure activities into their business trips. Clearly communicate the benefits and limitations of bleisure travel, emphasizing safety considerations and compliance with company policies.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, embracing bleisure travel can foster employee satisfaction, work/life balance, and productivity. By proactively addressing safety concerns and maintaining fiscal responsibility, businesses can harness the benefits of bleisure travel while safeguarding the well-being of their employees in an increasingly interconnected and mobile world.

Anuja Agrawal (https://anujaagrawal.com) is the coauthor of Check-Up, Check-In: Why Business Travel Strategies Should Prioritize Employee Health And Wellness, as well as the founder and CEO of Health Flights Solutions, which has developed the leading technology platform for medical travel. Agrawal has held senior executive positions with Fortune 500 companies leading divisions, defining strategic direction, managing acquisitions, and enabling strategic growth. She’s an innovator, an entrepreneur, and a recognized leader in the IT, business travel, and medical and wellness travel industries and an expert on the administration of medical and wellness travel for governments, regions, self-insured employers, insurance companies, and more.

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