How to Find the Right Employee for Work Travel

Every potential hire has their strengths and weaknesses. The qualities and ideas that make them stand out in their hiring interview will be the qualities and ideas that continue to make them a good fit for your organization year after year.

It’s easy to forget not every candidate shares the same ambitions. We assume everyone is motivated by a higher salary, wants recognition in front of their peers, or wants to travel. It’s easy to project our own workplace needs and aspirations onto others and unconsciously burden someone with a responsibility they never wanted.

Also read: Money (really!) isn’t Everything — What Benefits do People Want?

Traveling for work is one such responsibility, and it’s one that tends to inspire strong feelings among workers. To those who haven’t done it or who absolutely love it, traveling across the country (or even the world) sounds exotic and exciting. New culinary wonders to try! Different cultures to observe, and new people to meet. A chance to be challenged in an unfamiliar place.

According to a recent survey of 502 mobile employees, however, not everyone enjoys taking their work on the road. While 34 percent say they love work travel, 36 percent say they primarily do it to advance their career. The last 30 percent don’t enjoy it at all. The rub, here, is that employees who don’t enjoy traveling but are asked or required to do it anyway are not motivated to stick with it.

So how do you get in front of employee turnover and make sure the employees you hire for mobile positions are people who will think of traveling as a “perk”?

They’re ok with being away

When asked what is hardest about traveling for work, most workers say being away from family. Your job, then, is to ask, “How much time away is too much?” If your prospective hire can’t imagine spending the time away from home you need from them, they’re unlikely to be the right fit for the job.

Also read: From Work–Life Balance To Work–Life Blending

Here are a few other questions you can ask to find out if traveling for work is something a potential hire will enjoy, regardless of the people they’re leaving behind:

  • How comfortable are you with spending weekends away?
  • Do you consider traveling for work more of a joy or a burden?
  • Are you willing to spend holidays away from home?
  • If you are selected for this position, what can we do to make your time away from loved ones easier?

Be aware that asking about someone’s marital status, whether they have children, or if they are expecting a child will get you in trouble with the US Equal Opportunity Commission.

Air travel isn’t a problem

Plenty of people don’t mind flying — about 84 percent, in fact. They’re the folks who don’t fuss about cramped seating, who get a kick out of the pre-flight safety presentation, and who can nap their way straight through a heart-stopping stretch of turbulence.

Still, a sizable portion of workers truly struggles with flying. Around 16 percent of respondents cite flying as the hardest part of traveling for business.

If your clients are primarily a flight or two away, you need employees who fall into the first category. Luckily, these workers are the majority! To find out which camp your perspective hire falls into, ask them questions like:

  • Does air travel make you nervous?
  • Do you find airports particularly stressful?
  • Has a fear of flying ever held you back from traveling somewhere you wanted or needed to go?

They know when to rest

Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem for employees across the country. For employees who conduct their business somewhere other than on their home turf, however, getting enough winks can be particularly challenging. So much so, WebMD has devoted a five-page resource to help traveling workers get the sleep they need.

According to the WebMD article, “A few hours of lost sleep combined with business travel significantly reduces performance.” As it turns out, most business travelers don’t even know they’re underperforming, and that, in and of itself, is a problem.

Also read: Managers: 5 Signs of Employee Burnout You Might Be Missing and What You Can Do About It

About half of workers who would give themselves high marks in performance unintentionally fall asleep while traveling. Not knowing when it’s time to call it and hit the hay may harm a working relationship if a company’s representative appears tired or disengaged.

So how can you know you’re hiring someone who will take steps to make sure they’re well rested? Try these questions on for size:

  • Do you find it hard to sleep while traveling?
  • Say you’re meeting with an important client and they want to go out for drinks late in the evening, but you have an early-morning meeting. What do you do?
  • How do you prioritize sleep when you’re traveling for work?
  • Has sacrificing sleep for work ever caused you to underperform professionally? If so, how will you ensure this isn’t a problem in the future?

They balance work with healthy choices

Combined, a poor diet and not enough exercise make up 16 percent of responses when asked what the hardest part is about traveling for work. Employers can ease this problem by making reasonable requests of a traveling employee’s time, booking hotels that have exercise equipment, and giving their employees complete freedom to choose healthy options when eating out, even if they cost a little extra.

That said, actually making healthy choices when on a business trip is largely up to the employee. And while it’s true people are free to eat what they like and exercise when they want, it’s also in your best interest to find someone who feels empowered to treat their body right, even when the odds are against them.

Statistically, healthy employees are better for business. According to the CDC Foundation, across the US, “Full-time workers … who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health problems miss about 450 million more days of work than healthy workers.” These absences from work affect productivity, which, in turn, costs employers around $225.8 billion dollars (or $1,685 per employee) each year.

Finding health-minded employees is important, particularly when one of their responsibilities is traveling for work. Here are a few questions you can ask to help you gauge how important healthy choices are to your potential employee:

  • How important is it to you to have healthy food options when traveling?
  • How do you stay motivated to exercise and eat healthy, even away from home?
  • If chosen for this position, what can we do as a company to help you stay healthy while traveling for work?

Note that none of these questions ask about current or past health problems or physical disabilities, topics of discussion that could also land you in hot water with the US Equal Opportunity Commission.

Most importantly, use your best judgment for the position. As with any hire, it’s important to match the right personality to the job. The qualities that make a person amazing for one position may make them a terrible fit for another. Keep your employees’ health and happiness in mind, and you’ll experience lower turnover and a more positive workforce in exchange.

Download the white paper and see how you can create an integrated, engaging employee experience using people analytics!

Image Source: