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Is the cost-of-living crisis affecting the safety of business travels?

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting business travel, with some companies attempting to cut costs on flights by adding external pressure onto their employees.

Travel expenses are costly at the moment, whether for leisure or strictly business; jumping on a plane and going anywhere is not a cheap endeavour in our current climate. Businesses now are travelling less yet spending more as flight prices are through the roof.

According to Rodger Cook, general manager of global security services at World Travel Protection, businesses are cutting costs and putting their employees in rather uncomfortable situations either by increasing stopovers at airports, spending less on accommodation and relying on public transport to deliver their employees to their destinations.

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“They’re spending more, but travelling slightly less, and what we’re seeing actually is that they’re travelling for longer durations, and they’re trying to save money on things like accommodation. And, of course, there’s a cause and effect with these things,” said Mr Cook.

The cause and effect he’s speaking of is the potential breach of safety that can happen to employees due to businesses cutting costs. Longer flights and more stopovers can lead to dangerous levels of fatigue and overload. Public transport can be unreliable by making failed assignments and objectives more common due to the employee not arriving to their destination on time.

Cheap accommodation can be a worry for numerous reasons, the location and area being the main one. If employees are posted up in dodgy areas for a few days, it can create all kinds of problems as well as some forms of anxiety for the employees themselves.

“What organisations are doing is trying to save money on things like accommodation or sending people on multileg journeys because it’s a cheaper flight, not taking into consideration the physical impact of a long-haul flight and what that means on the other end,” said Mr Cook.

Businesses must disconnect from this form of mitigation and instead focus on other alternatives to ensure that they are not sacrificing employee safety to cut down travel expenses.

“It comes back to the normal process of booking as early as possible and really tying down your travel management companies and getting that value for money that they say they offer,” Mr Cook said.

Employers must come to an understanding of the effect that this has on their employees.

“If they’re skimping on things like accommodation, they need to understand the flow-on and knock-on effects of that. We don’t want somebody to be put into a position where it’s dangerous, or it’s complex because they’re going to try and save a few dollars,” said Mr Cook.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Rodger Cook, click below:

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.