Canadian HR Reporter

August 2021 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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2 N E W S "It's just a matter of time, that's all it really is right now," she says. "But there is the demand there and corporations are looking at and planning for what that return to travel is going to be and what it's going to look like. Certainly, it's going to be different." Virtual versus face to face Of course, with the massive rise in Zoom calls throughout the pandemic, many people are wondering just how strong business travel will come back consid- ering the power of virtual technology. Eighty-two per cent of business trav- ellers and 79 per cent of travel deci- sion-makers say the benefits of in-person meetings outweigh the convenience of virtual participation, according to the Amex surveys in April. Four in five (79 per cent) travellers prefer in-person brainstorming and collaborative meetings over virtual ones, as well as in-person sales meet- ings over virtual ones (78 per cent), found the two surveys of 1,032 U.S. business travellers and 504 U.S. travel decision-makers. While video conferencing and tech- nology can help drive remote collabor- ation and efficiency, says Patrick Doyle, president and general manager of American Express Global Business Travel Canada in Toronto, it has also "reinforced the importance of getting in front of clients and getting in front of colleagues. There's no replacement for pitching to a customer in person to close a deal or to be in front of a colleague to help brain- storm an idea." Travelling for business is important, he says. "We like to call it a force for good. It fuels growth, it helps people build culture, it develops people personally and professionally, helps retain talent. And "Now, we've had to push a bit of a reset button as an industry, and companies are looking at it differently. And they are having some very measured, calculated approaches on what is the ROI for their organization.... We've seen companies really take that step back and assess it. Fortunately, it is still, by and large, an important factor and… it is essential to their business." " That's something that's really important for companies to take a look at and understand: does it make the most sense from a cost and relationship and revenue generation perspective?" A U.S. survey found that more than four in five decision makers surveyed said that business travel leads to higher profit (85 per cent) and revenue (85 per cent). Many (87 per cent) also say it's a way to reinvigorate employee engage- ment, it helps advance employees' professional growth (90 per cent) and it is important to attract (84 per cent) and retain (83 per cent) top talent. As for business travellers, 85 per cent say when they're exploring new job opportunities, the ability to travel for work is important. Travel also plays a valuable role in their profes- sional development, helping them perform better at their job (82 per cent) and giving them more job fulfill- ment (83 per cent), found American Express and American Express Global Business Travel. But there are still risks with the coronavirus, and having employees travel the world, says Andrea Lekushoff, presi- dent of Broad Reach Communications in Toronto. "Employers will need to consider, number one, whether they need to send their employees to travel, because as we've seen… we can carry out business via Zoom; we can sell via Zoom; our entire it helps build relationships. There's no substitute for in-person connections." When the GBTA asked business trav- ellers what types of meeting they found most effective for acquiring new clients or accounts, 60 per cent said face-to-face meetings, while only 11 per cent cited video teleconferences, says Tudorache. "To really get deep into what business needs are, you can't just continue to rely on technology and virtual communica- tions all day long. We know that face-to- face meetings are essential for collabor- ation; they're essential for strengthening company culture; they're very important for conducting general business with customers, for sales acquisitions… and building relationships." ROI takes on new importance In the past, people took travel for granted, so budgets were built each year based on historical trips, engagements, conferences or meetings, and access got easier as poli- cies evolved along with the awareness of business travelers, says Tudorache. sales cycle has adjusted to this new way of working. Our entire way of running our companies has worked in many cases throughout the pandemic." Employers should really consider whether travel is absolutely necessary, she says. "Are they actually losing business because they're not travelling? And if they're not, why expose their employees, why stress out perhaps their employees and their families, and why not save on their bottom line by continuing this way of doing business?" "Think of the efficiencies and the benefits to the bottom line of actually not having to pay for that travel of the employees, being able to focus on other work, instead of travelling for an entire day, and being exhausted the next day and not being able to be as efficient." The collapse of travel through the pandemic has given leaders an oppor- tunity to question their processes, says Lekushoff. "Business travel happened because that's just the way we did it; incentive travel happened because that's just the way we've done it. And maybe [now] it's an opportunity to look at what's important… and maybe we' ll find that there are other ways to motivate and other ways to build teams and bring them closer together." Taking a hybrid approach to travel As the market gets competitive, people will be compelled to go back out on the road and meet face to face because they build the best relationships that way, says George Ferguson, senior analyst of aero- space/defense and airlines at Bloomberg Intelligence in Princeton, N.J. EMPLOYEES MIXED ON TRAVEL PLANS Source: Global Business Travel Association "Corporations are looking at and planning for what that return to travel is going to be and what it's going to look like." Nancy Tudorache, GBTA 75% Percentage of global travel managers who say workers are willing to travel for business in the current environment 10% Percentage of global travel man- agers who say workers are not willing to travel for business in the current environment 50% Percentage of Canadian travel managers who say workers are willing to travel for business in the current environment 31% Percentage of Canadian travel managers who say workers are not willing to travel for business in the current environment Travel> pg. 1

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