Road Warrior Burnout: A Worthy Problem

Too much travel can cause anybody a load of stress.   Exhibit A is Brad Feld, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known angel/venture capitalists.  He lives in Colorado and was traveling 50-75% of the time.   He hit a wall.  Knew he couldn’t keep it up and still lead an emotionally healthy life.

His solution?  He quit traveling for business – cold turkey.  The Harvard Business Review interviewed him here, and Brad writes about it here.   Not traveling seems to be working for him.

The question is, how many of your firm’s road warriors are in danger of hitting this kind of wall?  The consequences can’t be good.

An Alarming “What If”

Imagine if the top ten percent of your frequent travelers called a long-term strike on business travel, like Brad Feld did.  What would happen to your customer relationships,  business development, staff development, collaboration, innovation, etc, etc.? Not to mention the cost of replacing those no-more-travelers  with folks who will travel a lot (or so they say).

What Are The Signs?

Surely your frequent travelers make up some, maybe much of your firm’s top-rated talent.  So who is watching for the early warning signs of traveler burnout?  Who even knows what those signs are?

And if you see those early warning signs, what’s the right response – less travel? Better quality or less stressful travel? Travel recovery days? Dinner for two on the company’s dime?

Who Owns The Problem?

I bet your HR colleagues will have a keen interest in this issue.  They track key metrics covering turnover, health and wellness costs, productivity and employee engagement.  They handle  issues of talent management, workforce planning and recruiting/retention.  So HR is a key stakeholder and should be valuable in reducing road warrior burnout.

You, the travel category manager, surely own part of this problem, by having responsibility for shaping travel policies that affect the traveler experience.  Think coach class for trips up to 15 hours, 3-star hotels in Shanghai, an extra connection just to save $100…these things matter, and have hard-to-see HR costs that offset the cheaper prices paid to suppliers. More on this concept of traveler friction here.

But the biggest owner is the business leader, the person with accountability for meeting the broader business goals, beyond just staying within her travel budget.  It’s this person who sees the value of travel, understands the wear and tear of that travel on his staff, and knows how hard it will be to replace valued travelers who say “No more travel for me”.

What’s The Solution?

Road warrior burnout is a worthy problem.  It’s important, tough to anticipate, and hard to solve.  In the next post I’ll describe tClara‘s approach to reducing the risk of road warrior burnout.

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2 thoughts on “Road Warrior Burnout: A Worthy Problem

  1. Pingback: Identifying Travel-related Retention Risks | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement

  2. Pingback: A Better Way to Manage Road Warriors, and Their Costs | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement

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