If you've been responsible for developing a travel policy for your company for the first time, you're probably wondering where to start and how to make sure you cover all of the important bases.
Whether you're looking to streamline or improve your current process, we’re offering five tips that will create a travel policy that's headed in the right direction.
A travel policy is a plan used to direct an individual or company regarding travel.
It helps set guidelines for employees when they're in foreign countries, and it ensures that they stay in compliance with the company's internal standards, which are designed to protect both the company and its employees while they travel.
1. Find Ways To Create a Business-Specific Travel Policy
A travel policy is different for each company.
Whether it's expense reporting, business travel requirements, or the definition of business/personal travel, it's critical to design a travel policy that matches your company.
One way to start is to ask employees about their expectations when travelling for work.
Ask them questions like: Should all expenses be paid? How should we handle personal expenses while travelling for work? What is the definition of business travel and vacation time?
You can also search online for travel policies that other companies have created. This will give you an idea of what's worked well for others and help you pinpoint the information you might not otherwise think to include in your own travel policy.
2. Be Sure You're Following the Protocol
If you take a proactive approach and talk to employees about their expectations when travelling but don't follow through with the travel policy suggested by those conversations, what's the point?
If you create a travel policy that doesn't reflect your business needs, it won't be effective.
The purpose of any travel policy is to help everyone understand what's expected when travelling for business.
Many companies that have a travel policy in place require employees to fill out an expense report for any completed travel. If you don't already, this is something you should definitely add to your policy.
It will help keep all of your travel expenses organized and can help with tax preparation come tax time.
3. Make Sure It's Clear to Your Employees
A travel policy should be clear to your employees. If they can't understand what's expected or how it works, the policy won't be effective.
The travel policy you create must work for you and your team and be something they can easily understand, use, and follow.
Most travel policies include guidelines that detail what you can and can't do during travel. Be sure to break it down into easy-to-understand language that everyone will be able to grasp.
Making these changes to your current travel policy or creating one will help increase productivity and ensure that everyone is on the same page for business travel.
4. Understand Your Policies and Expectations
Whenever you create or update your travel policy, including the reason for your policy and what it means to employees is helpful.
Employees will understand what is expected from them when travelling by including information like this in your travel policy.
A policy only works if every employee knows where they stand. If that isn't possible, don't bother creating a policy at all. Moreover, try to make it clear why this policy is in place.
It can be helpful to your employees if you give them the reasoning behind each item in your travel policy. It helps them understand why they should or shouldn't do something. Sometimes, it's easier for them to accept these guidelines when they know their reasoning.
5. Create a Detailed Travel Policy Document
Having a detailed travel policy document is the best way to ensure that everyone understands what's expected of them when travelling for work.
Whether you use an online or hard copy document, putting all of the information employees need in one place can help make sure that your policy is consistent and up to date.
Ensure that the document includes all of the most important information to your team, like business travel criteria, personal expenses while travelling for work, and how to fill out expense reports.
Additionally, make sure that your travel policy has all of the necessary federal, state, and local regulations. There are many tax implications to consider with business travel expenses.
Your employee handbook is a living document that you shouldn't take lightly.
If you have an employee travel policy, it should be included in your handbook. Your travel policies and procedures must be clear so that there are no misunderstandings about inappropriate behaviour when employees are on the clock or away from the office on company business.
When creating a travel policy, keeping these tips in mind will help you create one that works well for everyone on your team. Take the time to review your current travel policy or create an effective policy today.