5 reasons your company needs a sustainable travel policy
Discover how a sustainable travel policy can help you cut costs, reduce carbon emissions and boost employee awareness around climate change.
What is a sustainable travel policy?
Many businesses are experiencing levels of travel that are exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Added to that, they're also trying to reduce their carbon footrprint in line with climate targets and Net Zero goals. A sustainable travel policy can provide the structure and education to help employees make more sustainable choices when they're on the road, but also help businesses manage their travel budgets and minimize their carbon footprint. The purpose of the sustainable travel policy is to minimize the negative impact that travel has on the environment, society, and local communities and promote a responsible approach to travel in general. The overall aim of the sustainable travel policy is to balance the need for business-related travel with the goal of sustainability and responsible resource management.
Why you need a sustainable travel policy
1. It helps you control travel costs: With higher airfare and hotel rates to contend with, controlling travel budgets will continue to be a top priority for businesses of all sizes. Having a sustainable travel policy in place helps the finance team forecast and control spending while also giving a realistic picture of carbon emissions that will need to be reduced or offset.
2. It shows you're serious about sustainability: The best way of showing that you’re serious about building sustainability into your culture is by turning pledges into action. For businesses who do not produce and sell goods (such as consultancy firms like PWC), business travel is responsible for a significant portion of their carbon emissions. Last year, PWC reported that travel made up 68% of their company's total carbon emissions, making it a major focus area for reductions. Overall, addressing your business travel can be a quick win and a good way of showing your employees (not to mention your competitors!) that it’s a priority area for your business.
3. It helps you keep track of your travel activity: A more consistent and uniform approach to planning and booking travel will give you the data you need to establish travel trends and identify where to reduce your emissions. For example if you can see that long-haul trips are causing the bulk of your company’s emissions, you may decide that longer but less frequent trips would help to reduce the company’s climate impact.
4. It keeps your employees safe when they're abroad: As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees when they're traveling on behalf of the company. A travel policy (whether it’s sustainable or not!) provides them with the tools they need in unpredictable situations, whether that’s a canceled flight, or a hospital visit.
5. It creates a level playing field for business travel: The approach you use to ensure that pay conditions are fair for your employees - that same approach should be applied to travel. The last thing you want is to invite office gossip that someone got to fly business for a short-haul trip, when others didn't. Leveling the playing field will help eliminate any ambiguity around business travel.
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How to get everyone onboard with your sustainable travel policy
Make sure your message comes from the top
If the CEO doesn’t firmly endorse and stick to the sustainable travel policy, it’s going to come across as nagging from the office or travel manager, which is the beginning of the end, because it will demotivate that person to champion the initiative. So, how to make sure it doesn’t fail before it gets started? Get the CEO to send out an all-personnel email or arrange an in-person meeting. Here are the key things that they should cover in their communication:
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