According to ABTA, the most common causes of stress that business travellers experience include:
• Language barriers
• Poor sleeping patterns
• Jetlag and challenges of working across different time zones
• Poor diet and increased alcohol consumption
• Adjusting to climate and local cultures
Before sending any employee away for business, it is important to make sure they are medically fit for travel. Many companies will provide a medical screening program to help predict and prevent any potential health risks occurring.
Another strategy could be working together with your employee to find the most suitable journey that fits in with your travel policy and their personal preference. Allowing your employees to take part in this planning process will reduce any stress or anxiety that they might feel about the trip. Additionally, we recommend offering your employees the opportunity to extend their trip for personal travel. This is the perfect reward for your employee and will give them something to look forward to at the end of their trip.
When it comes to mental health and travelling, there’s no harm in planning ahead. Especially if you have had previous experiences of your mental health suffering while away on business. It is important to recognise that travel can be stressful, we’d recommend ensuring your journey itinerary is well thought out.
If you’re aware of what might trigger unsettling feelings, then pre-planning will help you avoid these situations. Whether that is specific transportation, inability to contact people while you’re away, or travelling through extremely busy rush hour periods. Travel is unpredictable; delays and cancellations are one of the most common causes of stress while away on business. Make sure you have developed a plan for how to cope with any potential delays on your travels.
An easy way to ensure your employees don’t experience a complete culture shock is to provide them with information on their business travel destination. Why not offer them destination guides, recommend they print or bookmark these for their trip. If you have employees that have visited the destination before, it is a good idea to put them in contact with each other, that way they can share top tips and discuss their experience.
Before your trip, make sure you research your destination, so you know what to expect when you arrive. This will reduce the experience of culture shock. One of the most common reasons that business traveller’s mental health can suffer is feeling isolated.
Why not ask your Travel Expert to search for accommodation that has a good social hub? A bar, meeting room, or guest lounge is a great place to meet other fellow business travels and fend off feelings of loneliness. Just remember, often other business travellers are feeling the same way. It never hurts to strike up a conversation.
It’s important for companies to recognise that while employees might see business trips as an exciting opportunity, it can also be a very lonely experience for individuals. Often companies consider the benefits of sending more than one employee, or allowing spouses to travel with the business traveller if it is over long periods. This gives your employees the opportunity to socialise with someone familiar whilst away on business.
It's also important for companies to consider key contacts who will need to be avaliable whilst people are away for business, that way employees have a point of contact, should they need it.
It can be easy to slip out of regular routine whilst away on business. Maintaining a similar routine to your everyday life will give you a sense of control in your unfamiliar setting. This could range from having adequate rest, keeping active and eating healthy. Additionally, staying connected to your family and friends at home will always bring some comfort. Pre-arranging time to contact them via phone or skype will give you something to look forward to after a long day of business.
If you’re looking for how to support your business traveller’s mental health, start by asking yourself these questions. Does your organisation have a wellbeing policy? Do you provide your employees the opportunities and the environment for them to feel comfortable to discuss their mental health? Are you providing your employees with useful tools to support their mental health?
It is important to ensure that there are mental health first aiders within the organisation who are fully trained with the most up to date training. Make sure that all line managers have at least basic training to understand how to spot the signs of a change in an employee’s mental health.
Recently, there has been a rise in organisations offering “duvet days” to their workforce. A duvet day allows employees to take the days off without short notice to de-stress.
For more information about how you can support mental health in your workplace visit the Mental Health Organisation website.
Our most important tip is to monitor your mental health before, during and after your business trip. If you feel your mental health deteriorating while you are away, make sure you seek help as soon as possible. Whether this is from your employer, friends, family or a local mental health service. There are many apps that allow you to monitor your mental health, take a look at the MIND website for more information.
If you find travelling often is too overwhelming for you, it is important to not suffer in silence. Let your employer know that this is affecting your mental health, and then come up with a plan together. Remember to always put your mental health first!