Report highlights need for prioritising mental health during business travel

Report Highlights Need For Prioritising Mental Health During Business Travel

Amid ongoing recovery efforts, there are looming concerns over the impact of business travel on mental health and wellbeing. About 73 percent of business travellers worldwide (80 percent in Saudi Arabia and 76 percent in the UAE) have expressed the need for prioritising their mental wellbeing during their travel after the pandemic. According to a study conducted by Collinson, the prevalence of mental health concerns have increased across the world. ‘The Return Journey’ report indicated that about 84 percent of travellers in pre-pandemic times have expressed worries related to mental health.

In an interview with media, Priyanka Lakhani, regional commercial director Middle East and Africa and director South Asia at Collinson, noted that travellers in the region are experiencing significant levels of stress related during travel.

The study also pointed out that while travel-induced stress has always been a matter of concern prior to the pandemic, the constant regional changes related to rules and regulations for travellers have enhanced the stress for them. About 48 percent of Saudi travellers and 52 percent of UAE travellers have shared their concerns related to the negative impact of travel stress on their professional and personal productivity. Lakhani noted four out of five business travellers in Saudi and the UAE have observed the impact of travel stress on their job.

“People still want to travel and are taking to the skies, but there is definitely more of a fear factor now than before the pandemic – the issue of travel stress is particularly significant for business travellers,” she added.

The report also noted that after the pandemic, 62 percent of the UAE business travellers are seeing travel getting more stressful than prior to COVID-19.

Lakhani also pointed out that business travel sector will remain central to the global economy and its recovery in the post-pandemic process.

“In a year of working-from-home and video calls, our research has found that four-in-five business travellers across KSA and the UAE have seen their job affected by a lack of cross-border business travel,” she affirmed.

In addition, the report revealed a third of global business travellers have observed that lack of travel has negatively impacted the productivity of the company. About 33 percent in Saudi and 32 percent in the UAE stated that they were unable to do their job with maximum efficiency.

According to Lakhani, these numbers are crucial for the recovery of business travel globally by helping travel companies and employers in enhancing the need for prioritising travellers' wellbeing.

Business travel recovery will depend on all aspects of passenger wellbeing, including physical and mental, along with establishing a balance between adhering to new health protocols and passengers' experience.

With businesses working towards restoration of cross-border travel, there is a looming challenge to ensure employees do not feel stressful while travelling. The report revealed that 57 percent of employees think that their companies prioritises cost-cutting over their wellbeing.

Responding to questions related to business travel in the post-pandemic process, Lakhani said the research shows that passengers are looking forward to a seamless, stress-free experience, with safety measures such as social distancing and sanitisation in place from check-in to arrival.

Furthermore, 34 percent of the business travellers in the UAE and 31 percent in Saudi are keen on paying for fast-track security. On the other hand, 35 percent of the UAE and 36 percent of Saudi passengers have expressed willingness to pay more for a free seat next to them on the plane for extra space during their journey. 87 percent of them have underlined the importance of social distancing, with the same proportion wanting the access to socially distanced spaces for de-stressing.

“Now, more than ever, travellers need reassurance from their company and/or travel companies, that it is safe to fly, and that their physical and mental well-being will be a priority,” Lakhani said.

She underlined the need for organisations to take a step back and understand the requirements of their employees during corporate travel and integrate the needs into a well-communicated Travel Risk Management (TRM) programme.

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