By Ken Walker
Save your business time, aggravation, and money by putting in place travel rules that apply to all employees. Of course, travel rules will probably be bent from time to time, but managers should make it a point to distribute and enforce travel policy so that employees know what is expected of them while on the road.
Most of the time, responsible travelers can police themselves. It's only for circumstances when there's no clear right decision or if a particular employee has proven themselves to not be totally reliable that travel guidelines are needed.
Managing traveling employees may sometimes require bending the rules. To keep your employees happy and productive, you need to know when and how to make exceptions to hard and fast travel rules.
There are circumstances when making a deal with a traveler who’s stuck in one of those tough gray areas is the right thing to do, even if it means getting creative with corporate policy.
Real Life Examples
Consider the following two hypothetical examples where it may be beneficial to bend corporate travel rules.
Mark is set to fly from Chicago to Atlanta to do consulting for a week. It’s November, this is likely Mark's final trip of the year, and he's very close to earning platinum status with the airline. He knows that if he can book the flight to Atlanta with two connections that he will gain enough reward points to become a platinum traveler. The longer flight is a bit more expensive, and as an hourly employee he knows his manager wouldn’t likely approve the extra overtime.
In this case, the manager should actually approve Mark's request. Helping Mark earn platinum status is good for the company because he’ll have priority booking and seating which provides a lot of benefits. The manager might make a deal with Mark that if the company absorbs the moderate extra cost of the flight, he flies on his own time and doesn’t charge any hours spent making the extra connections.
Consider another case. John noticed recently that he’s no longer accruing any vacation hours. Looking at his schedule, he’s booked to travel and work for the next six straight weeks. Without any real vacation plans on the books, John is troubled that he’s not earning any vacation. John’s manager knows that he’s one of the true road warriors of the group.
While it may go against policy, John’s manager could make a deal with him that if he promises to take a week of vacation sometime during the next quarter, he’ll sign off that John is on vacation during one of his upcoming work weeks. In exchange, John’s true vacation later in the quarter will take place during a workweek. John will continue to accrue vacation hours by postponing” an immediate vacation.
Getting creative with travel policies can actually do the business a lot of good. Keeping travelers happy goes a long way toward increasing productivity. Employees who prove themselves to be reliable, ethical, and honest travelers deserve a bit of extra support from management, even it if means bending or breaking corporate travel rules.