Building Employee Engagement with a Travel-Heavy Team

Making Company Culture a Priority – Even If Your Team Is Always on the Road

 

In 2015 alone, employees around in the United States took 488 million business trips, spending $302 billion.

That’s a lot of free cocktails!

While the occasional long-distance business trip pops up for about 10% of employees, other employees find themselves traveling shorter distances more regularly. This means that managers of employees who travel a lot (think sales, delivery, or any position that relies heavily on client interaction) have to work double-time; you’ve got all the resources and expectations of an on-site team with all the challenges of a remote team.

Out of sight, out of mind? Hardly. Creating a great company culture is just as important in hybrid cultures as it is for traditional ones. Here’s how you can go about building employee engagement when your team travels a lot:

Encourage on-site communication and collaboration

When employees work next door to each other in cubicles, it’s easy to develop a natural rapport and an arsenal of inside jokes. On the other hand, when one employee is in two days a week and another is in on two different days a week, building employee engagement and connections are a little harder.

Here’s what HR can do:

  • Remove interaction barriers when employees are in the office at the same time, like urgent meetings, long phone calls, and exclusive business lunches. Try to make onsite days as communication- and collaboration-focused as possible.
  • Follow in Buffer’s footsteps by assigning new employees a mentor for weekly or monthly phone calls. This will help offsite employees feel connected whether they’re on the road or working from home.  
  • Schedule planned downtime to give employees time to interact in a low-pressure, non-work context. This can take the form of happy hours, hosted lunches, or just an afternoon walking tour of your city on foot.  

Build in burnout-prevention initiatives

Individuals that are on the road a lot are susceptible to depression, health problems, and burnout – three challenges that quickly bleed into the workplace. Proactively approach employee health and wellness with the following initiatives that focus on creating culture through relaxation, healthy eating, and exercise:

  • Consider incorporating massage and health club discounts into your benefits package, especially with nationwide chains that will give employees access no matter where they travel.
  • Train managers on how to look out for signs of burnout and depression, as well as workplace-appropriate ways to encourage and troubleshoot work-related problems.
  • Suggest voluntary company competitions for walking a certain amount of steps per day or tracking food with a free app like MyFitnessPal.

If you decide to move forward with company-wide competitions for weight loss or healthy eating, make sure it’s very clear that it’s optional. For some people, adding social pressure to change food or exercise habits will only add stress, not remove it, and it won’t be helpful.

The same policy applies to managers attempting to address depression or burnout problems; this should be handled very carefully on a person-to-person basis. For some employees, a concerned manager will be a welcome way to navigate a short-term problem; for others, it’s the last conversation they’d ever want to have at work.

Building employee engagement with mobile-based communication system

Ask anyone who travels for work – they live by their phone. In fact, 91% of Americans now have cell phones, and we check them over 8 billion times per day. Take advantage of this natural source of communication by creating culture with a mobile-based communication app like Slack or Yammer that can keep your team in touch even when they’re on a plane, bus, or in the back seat of an Uber.

Being both onsite and offsite, high-travel teams experience the best and worst of both kinds of culture. That doesn’t mean that creating culture is an impossible task — you just need to be creative about it.  

Looking to create a strong culture even with a team that is on the road? Let CultureIQ help!

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