Minimize disruptions to employee sleep schedules, stress levels, healthy habits and personal relationships through supportive travel policies.
This WELL feature requires projects to implement policies that counter the adverse health impacts associated with business travel, especially as they pertain to stress, sleep, personal relationships and overall health goals.
Business travel is linked to a host of challenges to engagement in optimal health behaviors, including insufficient sleep, poor dietary choices, higher alcohol consumption and increased sedentary behavior. Compared to light business travelers (1–6 days/month), frequent business travelers, especially those who travel more than 20 days/month, are at higher risk for a number of adverse health behaviors and consequences including sedentary behavior, trouble sleeping, tobacco use, alcohol dependence, symptoms of anxiety and depression, higher body mass index, obesity, cardiovascular disease and overall poorer self-rated health. Additionally, business travelers, especially those on long trips, are at risk of experiencing higher levels of stress and job exhaustion. This is in part due to social and emotional challenges, such as the impact of travel on family and feelings of isolation, as well as workload demands upon returning from travel. These challenges, in addition to poor sleep patterns, higher alcohol use and greater sedentary behavior, may put business travelers at increased risk for poor mental health. Compared to those who do not travel at all, light travelers tend to have more favorable health risk profiles. However, it is essential for all travelers, especially those with increasingly demanding schedules, to develop and maintain positive health behaviors during travel to support long-term health.
Provide Business Travel Support (1 point)
Verified by Policy Document, Educational Materials
Projects address at least two of the following requirements:
Employers promote the following for all eligible employees:
- When flying less than seven hours, employees are provided the option of a non–red eye flight.
- When flying more than seven hours, employees are provided at least one of the following options: non-red eye flight, fully reclining airplane seat, or the option to arrive a day early (when flying out) and take a recovery day (when flying back) to support time zone adjustment.
- Employees are not required to take business trips for which the total, round-trip travel time (including lay-overs, wait times and travel to and from terminals) exceeds 25% of the total trip duration (trips with a duration of less than five hours are exempt).
- Employees are provided with education on how to establish healthy sleep habits and manage time zone changes during and after travel.
Employers support employee workload while away. Policy may be adjusted as needed for different teams or departments within an organization based on business needs and must cover at least three of the options below:
- Establishing preferred communications channels for contacting the employee while away, including consideration of time zone differences.
- Reallocation of work among other non-traveling employees while traveler is away.
- Routine scheduling of time to catch up on work upon return.
- Flexible return arrangements (e.g., work from home option on day after return).
Employers implement the options below:
- Employees are booked at hotels with free fitness centers or reimbursed for fitness classes or gym access fees incurred during travel.
- Employees are provided with meal stipends that allow for the purchase of healthy food options.
- Employees are provided with education on maintaining healthy habits while traveling, covering, at minimum, physical activity and nutrition (including alcohol consumption).
Employers implement at least two of the options below:
- During business trips longer than three weeks, employees are given the time off and a budget to fly home or to fly a friend or family member to meet them for at least 48 hours (total round-trip travel time for visitor, including layovers, wait times and travel to and from terminals, may not exceed 25% of the total trip duration).
- During business trips longer than two weeks, financial support is provided for employees with dependents at home (including pets) to subsidize costs of caretaking while employee is traveling for business.
- Employees are provided with education covering how to cope with time away from family while traveling.
Note: Education must be culturally appropriate and literacy level appropriate. Education can come in the form of trainings, brochures, videos, posters, pamphlets, newsletters and/or other written or online information.
If the requirements of Part 1: Provide Business Travel Support are met through the provision of educational materials, then these can be counted toward Part 2: Promote Health and Wellness Education in Feature C01: Health and Wellness Awareness.
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