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The detrimental effect business travel can have on mental health

By Kace O'Neill | |6 minute read
The Detrimental Effect Business Travel Can Have On Mental Health

Stress, burnout, and fatigue are just some of the negative ramifications employees have pointed towards as a result of repetitive business travel.

As more organisations and businesses acknowledge the importance of mental health support, awareness is being raised around how burnout, stress, and fatigue can be key detriments to the mental health of employees.

New research from World Travel Protection shows that Australian business travellers feel frequent travel adds to stress and burnout (47 per cent) and gets worse for those who travel at least once every two months (56 per cent).


The data shows that many business travellers struggle with mental health issues due to the repetitive nature of the tasks they undertake. At least one in four travellers (27 per cent) has sought mental health support to address the challenges of work travel, with the number increasing to more than one-third (36 per cent) for frequent flyers (travelling at least once every two months).

There are common feelings and issues that arise for business travellers, which can produce negative mental health effects. Some of them are homesickness/missing their family (38 per cent), followed by feeling exhausted (37 per cent), anxious (34 per cent), stressed (32 per cent), and lonely (26 per cent). A higher proportion of women reported these feelings.

Dr Neil Slabbert, regional chief medical officer at World Travel Protection, highlighted the importance of addressing the wellbeing of employees during business trips.

“Organisations have an obligation to ensure their employees feel supported when they’re away from home and their loved ones, both from a physical safety and mental health perspective. The outcome not only ensures employee wellbeing but also maximises the benefits of business travel for both staff and the company,” Slabbert said.

Business travel has been a revered job role by employees as it is usually an enjoyable activity, one that allows you to depart from the regularly scheduled program and passage outside of the workplace. But that once revered experience has become an inimical endeavour, perhaps due to the hype of travelling subsiding post-pandemic, and employers have been lethargic in counteracting it.

More than a third (35 per cent) feel their organisation does not take their wellbeing seriously when travelling for business. Employees oftentimes will travel while experiencing depression and high anxiety while also being prone to having panic attacks (48 per cent). This is especially prevalent for younger employees between 18–34 years old (58 per cent).

The survey also finds that only about a quarter (26 per cent) of travellers receive a full briefing about their destination from their employer prior to or during a business trip.

The uncertainty and lack of support are somewhat responsible for the detrimental effects of business travel on employees. If organisations are truly acknowledging mental health, they should be showing a more concerted effort in terms of reassuring their employees about the hazards that can arise mentally and physically when travelling.

“Having peace of mind about your safety when abroad can play a big part in how confident you feel when you’re working. Travel risk management companies support corporate travellers by providing pre-trip medical and country intelligence, which sets expectations before the trip. Being proactive is something that supports travellers’ wellbeing,” Slabbert said.

“Other initiatives include supporting daily family or next-of-kin video calls, downloading a wellness or meditation app to their phone and having a solid action plan in case of an emergency. Employees should also have contact details on hand of their travel assistance company should they require urgent care.”

Oragnisations must throw their support behind their employees to assist them through these mental health issues. There are a number of different strategies that can be deployed to achieve this. For example, being proactive and ensuring that business travellers have the blueprints and plans available to them before they leave on their trip. This can negate some of those stress levels rising and perhaps lessen the chance of burnout and fatigue.



Employees experience burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. Usually, persistent tension or dissatisfaction causes this to happen. The workplace atmosphere might occasionally be the reason. Workplace stress, a lack of resources and support, and aggressive deadlines can all cause burnout.

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.