Identifying Travel-related Retention Risks

?????????Who can say when a traveler has reached that dreary destination of travel burnout?

It’s a very individual issue, yes?  For some, it may take years of constant hopping from terminal to taxi, while others may arrive after a few weeks of  run-of-the-mill trips, but are suffering the consequences of way too many problems piling up at home.

I knew I was in travel burnout land when, after a few months of intense travel, the sight of my suitcase made me cringe.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to identify travelers at risk of burnout, without having to flash pictures of carry-ons in front of them and look for signs of dread.

My firm, tClara, is scoring traveler itineraries with Trip Friction™ points.  The goal is to create a proxy for the wear and tear travelers incur during their trips.

Why bother?  Because all that travel-related wear and tear eventually creates real costs.  Productivity costs.  Health care and even disability costs.  Lower employee engagement levels.  And eventually the toughest one – employee turnover.

Our industry needs a good metric, a new KPI, to shine a light on this hidden cost of too much travel. Without such a metric, I don’t see how you can truly claim to optimize a travel program…but that’s another story.  Here’s our approach to measuring traveler wear and tear:

An easy day trip in First Class gets a few points, while that much tougher trip to India in Coach gets way more points.  Trips that last 7 days get more points than overnight trips.   Trips that cross 12 time zones get more points than those that cross two. You get the idea.

This point system lets us measure how much Trip Friction each traveler has piled up. That lets us quickly flag those good men and women who are clearly taking on more than their fair share of travel.  Here’s what one company’s Trip Friction profile looks like, compared to an illustrative benchmark:

Traveler Trip Friction™ Distribution

Trip Friction makes it much easier to spot the travelers who are likely close to, or already in the travel burnout zone.

Not all high-friction travelers are tired of travel, of course.  Road warriors are often a hardy, self-selected bunch who know that lots of travel is part of their job.  Good for them.

But if you are the business leader in charge of all these high-friction travelers, surely you’re better off knowing which of your valued employees may need a check-in, a “So, how are you doing with all that travel?”

That goes double for any HR leader worried about retention and employee engagement rates.  I can’t think of a higher at-risk group than heavy-duty road warriors.

Trip Friction is a starting point, a first step on the road to mitigating retention risks and maximizing the return on not just the travel costs, but more importantly, the human cost of travel.

Up next: Does Trip Friction really matter?  What does the evidence say?

Know anyone in HR that might be interested in this topic?  Please share this post, and encourage them to weigh in.  

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Related: Road Warrior Burnout: a Worthy Problem

4 thoughts on “Identifying Travel-related Retention Risks

  1. Hi Scott,

    Here is another way to put it (not sure if you can print this)

    As someone once said to me, “We all get paid a certain amount of money to
    put up with a certain amount of sh!t”

    When the amount of the latter is consistently larger than the amount of
    the former then that’s Travel Friction!


    Tim HUNT
    CS&O SENIOR COMMODITY BUYER | HSBC Bank Australia Limited

    • Hi Tim,
      No doubt plenty of road warriors would agree!

      More seriously, I wonder what the compensation differential is between road warriors and normal travelers…if anyone has thoughts about this, please weigh in.

  2. Hi Scott
    I’m keen to keep up with this discussion. We are working on “Project How Much” trying to understand what is the right amount of travel for our business and travellers. This includes both quantitative studies and now qualitative research, so your case here links very nicely.
    On a separate note you may want to check out the CWT Travel Stress Indicator study.
    Kerrie Henshaw-Cox
    Global Commercial Leader
    AstraZeneca Travel Serice

  3. Pingback: A Brighter Way to Measure Travel’s Impact | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement

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