A workcation – also known as “bleisure” travel – is when employees extend their business trip plans to enjoy sightseeing and other recreational activities. Allowing it is a good way to boost morale and encourage more employees to hit the road on company business, according to Dr. Jim Castagnera.
In fact, 43% of business trips end up gaining a leisure component outside of the work itinerary, and 70% of workcation travelers get out of town at least once per quarter, according to data from Expedia.
But as Castagnera pointed out in the ResourcefulFinancePro webinar, “Bleisure Travel: How to Avoid Expense Management Headaches, Liabilities and Unnecessary Risk,” among the concerns you may have is something bad happening to an employee while they’re traveling. “If they’re going to a country where kidnapping is big business … I may not want to approve certain travel,” he commented.
COVID-19 infection, natural disasters and civil unrest also probably come to mind.
It’s also vital that the bleisure benefit doesn’t get abused by employees submitting travel expenses for reimbursement that were unrelated to the business trip assignment.
8 keys to a solid workcation policy
If you choose to adopt bleisure travel, it’s important to put a clear and easy-to-understand policy in writing, Castagnera said. To meet your cost control and travel safety objectives, it has to include:
- Guidance on making air, rail, hotel and rental car reservations (e.g., tips on best ways to get to common destinations, limitations on air travel class and hotel star ratings)
- Rules on using taxis and ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft
- Rules for spending on meals, entertainment, alcohol, tips and room service (including the mini-bar)
- Expectations for personal safety, as well as security of electronic devices and other company property
- Rules about gifts and favors
- A system for claiming expenses (submitting receipts, expense reports, etc.)
- The steps employees and managers are expected to take in the expense approval process, and
- The steps employees must take when extending a trip (e.g., preapproval requirements, PTO use, booking responsibilities, disclosing the impact on air fare and the hotel rate).
Castagnera added that it’s perfectly reasonable to have manager safety/wellbeing check-ins with employees that are on workcation, especially if family members are traveling with them. “People tend to get touchy about privacy. If you sell the (policy) in a positive way, employees begin to understand and appreciate (it),” he said.