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Traveler wellbeing: the missing metric

November 15, 2023


By Richard Johnson
Global Head of Solutions Group, CWT

A lack of focus on employee wellbeing can be damaging for the health of your travelers, according to a 2018 US study. It found those who traveled for business more than 21 nights a year were more likely to smoke, report problems with sleep and score above clinical thresholds for alcohol dependency.

These health impacts can come at a cost to the employer through higher medical claims and a reduction in employee productivity and performance.

It’s perhaps surprising then that traveler wellbeing is often squeezed into safety and security. When we think of wellbeing it’s seen as difficult to measure and wrapped up in layers of complexities, preventing an accurate picture of how travelers are coping.

Data transformation

A major goal this year for many organizations is to cut carbon emissions and keep cost impacts down, but without a metric to represent the traveler, companies could easily lose sight of the employee behind the trip, putting their wellbeing at risk.

At the recent GBTA event in Hamburg and the one earlier this year in Dallas, I led a session exploring the missing metric of employee wellbeing. My objective was to demonstrate some simple instances of data points we might examine and how we can transform transactional data into employee well-being insights.

Key takeaways from the session:

  • How to use your existing travel data to measure wellbeing
  • Exploring practical applications of how wellbeing data can be used to support responsible travel goals
  • The benefits wellbeing focus can bring to your organization.

Impact scoring

Before the GBTA events we conducted a poll among the business travel industry, asking people to identify what impacts them most when traveling. The top 3 responses were: Cabin class for long-haul flights, trip duration and flight times.

Using the insights and feedback from the polls, we demonstrated simple ways to measure and track wellbeing impacts. 

The goal of this exercise was to show after you’ve established your criteria, you place an impact score on each of these factors by having a threshold of what you would consider to be ‘acceptable’, ‘not acceptable’ and something in the middle. 

For example: Cabin class - we set our thresholds at 5 and 7 hours and found an employee traveling in business class can have the best experience regardless of conditions, so cabin class would receive 100% in any scenario. However, for those traveling economy, our comfort levels are often influenced by the length of our flight. We applied thresholds and scores - flights of less than 6 hours in economy are acceptable and will receive a score of 100%. Flights from 6-8 hours start to negatively impact wellbeing and would therefore receive a score of 50%, and flights of over 8 hours in economy will likely be physically impactful for most and therefore would score a 0%. 

Using that same approach, we looked at a few other examples of thresholds in other categories such as work-life balance, departure and arrival times, and jetlag.

For the final part of the session we focused on tangible actions and ways to incorporate wellbeing metrics into the travel program strategy and reporting such as:

  • Travel policy reviews
  • Sustainability initiative impact analysis
  • Business leader reporting
  • Traveler level reporting and education
  • Supplier evaluations and discussion

For more information on measuring traveler wellbeing, please contact CWT Solutions Group and start getting to grips with real ways you can measure this missing metric today.


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