Lost Wagers

For The Road

How to keep business travel from taking over your employees' lives

Business travel is often viewed as the single biggest intrusion work makes on employees' personal lives, says Christopher Newton, president and CEO of Work|Life Benefits, a company in Cypress, California, that offers career and benefits resource referral and administration services. It's challenging, tiring and can create problems at home. But you can make it easier for employees who spend time on the road to maintain their productivity while they balance their work and personal responsibilities. Newton has these suggestions:

*Provide a consultation and referral program. Employees may need assistance with a variety of service and information needs related to travel and to caring for their families while they're gone. This is especially important for inexperienced travelers and for employees who are primary caregivers for children or elderly dependents. Such a program can provide day-care or agency-care information at the destination (Newton says 15 percent of business trips now include children according to the Executive Edge newsletter), help with finding overnight care at home while employees are gone, or general information about travel issues.

*Offer dependent-care vouchers. The cost of child care, elder care and even pet care can make business travel a serious financial burden for employees. Consider a voucher program that reimburses workers for these extra costs.

*Give as much notice as possible. While it may be impossible to totally avoid last-minute trips, the earlier you give employees notice in advance of business travel, the easier it will be for them to prepare both professionally and personally.

"It's expensive to send an employee on the road, and you want to make the most of that investment," says Newton. "You don't want your employees pre-occupied with worrying about what's going on at home. You want them to be focused before, during and after the trip, to feel good about what they did for the company, and to not feel like they were somehow violated."

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lost Wagers.

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