Any time you are working on a new company initiative or plan, having executive oversight and support is important. Clear, concise, and consistent communication from top-level down ensures that the plan aligns with company strategies and initiatives that are already in place.
The post-pandemic period will continue to evolve at a fast pace, both in travel regulations and perhaps in the company’s objectives, requiring adaptability in the plan. Some companies may establish a thematic goal for what is most important to the organization right now, given the impact of the global pandemic.
This focus can drive objectives for a period of time, augmenting the pre-pandemic strategy. What is most important now may not continue to be the focus as we get further away from the post-pandemic period. This is especially likely with travel.
A stakeholder group of internal subject matter experts can lead plan oversight. Making sure you have the right departments lending subject matter expertise, guidance, and planning beyond travel is essential. “The pandemic has brought to light how the welfare of travelers and co-workers in the office are connected, as well as the ability to accomplish objectives through virtual meetings. Given these new connections and ways of thinking about travel objectives, it may be beneficial to re-evaluate where the travel department is best aligned strategically within the organization and within the executive leadership team,” said Nancy Miller, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Communications, Travel and Transport.
To drive support, it is important to demonstrate connectivity between the plan and the company objectives that drive success. Increase executive buy-in by highlighting how the plan aligns with company culture, objectives, and “what is most important” during this period. Given the changing objectives and expectations for employee welfare while traveling, and while in the office with other employees, you may also reconsider the best department and executive to align with the travel department. Be flexible, yet pointed in how you structure your support team.
Accepting Policy Changes
Executives leading by example are key to employee buy-in. Internal travel policy changes need to be clear, and executives can provide support as temporary changes are put in place. As travel restrictions evolve, executives also need to be vigilant in supporting these changes.
Communicate Using Data
Data supports decisions. The executive team needs to be upfront with department leaders about potentially new cost savings/cost avoidance measures, and with travelers about new expectations that are being placed upon them and how those expectations lead back to company success.
Your executive leadership team needs to communicate the overall decisions and guidance of the company. The travel team and other key stakeholders need to provide the data that helps lead the executives to decisions about who gets back on the road first and expectations that will be put on these travelers to be more effective and efficient. Data will be derived by talking to your travelers, getting their input, listening to their experiences, and simply making sure your people have a forum where they can post suggestions on improvements for the company, share experiences of their travels, and so on. The more you allow employees to have a voice and know their voice is being heard will lead to support and acceptance of change in your company.
Good communication has a cadence, a rhythm. During this period, communication must be on-going, clear, and concise. We are all swimming in unknown waters right now. It’s okay for leadership and the executive team to not have all the answers, all the time. People want to hear from their leaders and want to feel that they are being taken care of even if there are no perfect answers. Make no mistake, employees want and need to hear the reassuring yet factual thoughts from their top leaders.
We'll be back soon with our next topic: compliance. Or, you could have your dessert first and get The Ultimate Guide to When Travel Returns ebook right now. Go on. It's ok. You know you want to.