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Travel & expense policy management tips for HR professionals

5 min
Posted: 05 September 2022Updated: 06 September 2022
Two Women Smiling at Work Conference

Why Human Resources should care about travel and expense management

Travel and expense management is an enormous undertaking. You may be wondering why Human Resources (HR) should be concerned with expense reimbursements, but the potential friction involved in tracking travel expenses can make or break your travel program.

As an HR professional, you are aware that a strong corporate travel culture fosters connection and motivation between employees. Many argue that business travel is the new center of company culture. In our remote and hybrid workforce, company culture is one of the most crucial factors for attracting and retaining talent.

In fact, 46% of job seekers claim it’s very important when applying for a role and employees who don’t like their company’s culture are 24% more likely to quit.

Reviewing best practices to address employees’ expenses and travel arrangements is an important part of maintaining an engaged workforce. When employees are engaged, they’re connected to your mission and are more productive. Improving your travel expense policy will have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Challenges in the corporate travel landscape are shifting

Domestic and international travel are seeing fewer restrictions. As pandemic-related concerns take a back seat, travel challenges are shifting to macroeconomic and geopolitical issues. The potential effects of inflation and other economic factors are causing organizations to reevaluate their expense management and travel.

Proactive HR professionals are looking at their company’s spend culture to ensure that cost-cutting is not at the expense of employee wellbeing. Business travel and expense management should be traveler-focused as opposed to cost-focused to increase employee productivity, loyalty and retention.

Simplify the approval experience for greater traveler satisfaction

Approvals provide an added layer of control, but employees may get frustrated if the process is overly complicated. It is possible your business travel approval process needs an update.

There are many variables to consider. The recommended option for car rental, airfare and hotel room based on price and safety is always changing. Your approval settings need to be able to evolve with the changing economy and travel landscape. Here are a few basic requirements to consider:

  • Price range of airline tickets based on destination
  • Maximum cost for lodging expenses per night
  • Business class or first-class upgrade permissions
  • Minimum number of days booked in advance
  • Defining distinct types of business purposes for travel

You and your travel manager should have the flexibility to set approval requirements that are visible to your travelers. When you partner with a corporate booking platform you can manage the approval settings so that your travelers see recommended options based on your industry, company size, number of travelers, geographic location and travel budget.

You can also set different types of approvals for various types of travelers. For example, c-suite staff may not need to seek approval for a trip.

Empower your employees to book their own travel

Employees booking travel want autonomy over their business trips. There is a big shift away from using a traditional travel agency or relying on others to book employee travel. In most cases, administration teams want to spend their time on more high-value tasks than micro-managing travel itineraries.

Automating the approval workflow through a corporate booking tool is a win-win. Streamlining the process saves time for your administrative team because they no longer book all trips. Instead, they receive a notification to approve a booking with a simple click. A corporate booking tool allows employees the freedom to book for themselves while providing your organization control and visibility of travel bookings.

Integrating approval processes through a centralized booking tool is not just for large enterprises. Companies that have at least seventeen individual business trips a year will benefit from a corporate booking tool. No matter how large your corporate travel program is, it is time to wave goodbye to emailing itineraries, hunting for lost receipts and back and forth approvals.

Automate expense management solutions

Removing paper expense reports, manual reimbursement processes, and confusion over credit card use could have a larger impact on the health of your company culture than you might think.

It’s a game changer once you integrate your travel expense policy to guide your employee’s decisions. The right travel partner will allow you to capture employees’ travel spend within the booking tool.

Travelers can capture any additional business expenses with their phones by attaching receipts to their itinerary. Then it is as simple as submitting an expense report straight from their phone that managers can approve with one click. All data – offline, online, and any custom data – is passed to an expense management system for a simple, streamlined reimbursement process.

Employees boost their productivity when reimbursement requests are seamless. They have more time to focus on essential tasks for the company instead of sorting out their business-related expenses.

Stay involved in your company’s travel policy

HR teams should review your travel policy regularly to make sure that it meets your travelers’ current needs. The role of an HR leader is to support your people, including travel managers, as they operationalize any changes to your travel policy. Help them recognize employees’ expectations and flexibility of travel nuances like extended route lengths and adding personal travel time.

Your expertise in guiding senior decision-makers on the importance of traveler wellbeing will be crucial as policy becomes impacted by cost-saving pressures. You may want to review reimbursable expenses and per diem rates to ensure that travelers are comfortable while on the road.

One best practice is to set up internal channels for co-workers to communicate about travel. On these channels, they can share tips and tricks, concerns and experiences. The feedback you receive can be presented to internal stakeholders to show the importance of balancing employee wellbeing with policy restrictions.

In summary, business and travel expenses are an essential part of any business’s operations and contribute to your overall company culture. HR professionals should be invested in the right tools, processes, and systems that promotes a meaningful travel program and seamless expense management experience.

Learn more about the travel approval process, how to prioritize people in business travel, or talk to an Egencia representative for more information.

Looking for better business travel solutions? Get in touch with us.