Business Travel: Well-Being Woes

Jennifer Rudloff

Not surprisingly, road warriors are more likely to report poor health than workers who don’t travel for business as much. I think that there are several contributing factors. Here are a few ideas on engaging people in healthy habits while on the road:

The food available in most airports is not conducive to healthy eating or fruit and vegetable intake, which is one component of a person’s lifestyle that can lead to poor health (higher rates of chronic conditions, obesity, low energy, etc.). The Well-Being Index (WBI) shows that 67.7% of the US population eats healthy and only 51.4% eat fruits and vegetables regularly. These numbers are low, and depending on the person can be attributed to things like such as lack of access to healthy foods / proper nutrition, not having enough money to afford healthy foods, and not having enough time or the inclination to change healthy eating habits. All of these things can be exacerbated by business travel, and companies and HR departments can help business travelers better manage their health on the road. Here are a few options:

  • Take some time to put together collateral that can be used by travelers that suggests some healthy eating places within airports or major cities.
  • Promote / feature hotel chains that offer healthy options on their restaurant menus or at check-in. For example, most W Hotels are always happy to put a fruit bowl in a guest’s room for snacking.
  • Simple education on healthy eating and serving sizes can go a long way in helping people make healthy decisions .

Exercise can be incredibly difficult when traveling on business. Back-to-back meetings, conferences with packed agendas and just flat out being exhausted from traveling are just a few of the culprits. We know from the WBI that feeling well-rested and having sufficient energy are two key factors in a person’s proclivity to exercise. Here are a few options to get folks in the exercise mood on the road:

  • Promote technology that engages people in finding exercise options – checkout the apps that highlight running routes for travelers and find nearby gyms.
  • Review your gym membership reimbursement policy and other fitness benefits and educate your business travelers on using those benefits while traveling.
  • Encourage teams to start libraries of exercise DVD’s that people can check out when they are traveling. Get people to bring in yoga, P90X, and any other fitness DVD’s that can be can be rotated to team members who travel.

Stress, stress, stress - Delayed flights, lost hotel reservations, and long nights of catching up on emails adds a pile of stress on top of road warriors. According to the WBI, about 40% of Americans experience significant stress on a daily basis. Stress increases cortisol levels which elevates the risk for obesity and other chronic conditions. Finding ways to relieve the stress for your company’s travelers can yield significant preventative benefits:

  • Look into some options for subsidizing or partially funding stress relief activities for business travelers such as massage, yoga, and gym memberships.
  • Encourage employees to go for a walk outside or grab a healthy snack during conference breaks to boost energy. Maintaining energy throughout the day will help fuel the motivation to exercise in the evening or the next morning.
  • Review travel policies to ensure that the best vendors are servicing your travelers – if you are primarily using an airline that is on time 10% of the time and a car rental agency that has trouble keeping reservations, you are probably better served to find some new vendors.

To read more in an article recently published today in Human Resource Executive, click here.

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Index