April 22, 2024

Wellbeing takes centre stage at new event

The first Business Traveller Wellbeing Conference took place in London this week featuring a line-up of speakers selected to help educate, inform and shape delegates' corporate travel programmes.

“Wellbeing is no longer niche,” said Steve Dunne of Well Intelligence. “It is mainstream and it will change the way we talk about everything.”

“The next generation of employees is now joining the workforce and is being so much more demanding around wellbeing,” he added. “And there is growing evidence that better wellbeing means a stronger economy.”

Andy Neilson of Twisted Orange shared his story of deteriorating mental health as a high-flying procurement professional, advising attendees to lookout for vulnerable people within their own organisations.

“I thought I was in control, a role model, confident and invincible… but in reality I was scared, miserable, unproductive and uncommunicative,” he said.

“I was tired and exhausted all the time and I didn’t know who to talk to.”

Now on the road to recovery, he said: “If you have business travellers in your organisation then there will be people there with problems.

“Unfortunately I don’t think the stigma of mental health will go so you have to build in the fact your travellers probably won’t ask for help.”

Matthew Holman of Simpila highlighted research that shows one in four adults will have a diagnosed mental illness each year, yet only 20% of business travellers with mental illness tell their employer.

Holman said that in 20 years as a regular business traveller there were two questions he was never asked.

“Firstly, nobody ever asked me if I was fit to travel – it was the expectation that you have to go. And secondly, nobody ever asked how I was when I got back.”

One attendee however, Alice Linley-Munro, Travel Manager at Oil Spill Response, said her organisation had recently introduced a pre-trip ‘are you fit to travel?’ survey and was looking at implementing something on this subject post-trip.

Meanwhile, sleep expert Rachel McGuinness warned: “Sleep deprivation is a precursor to depression, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and worse.”

McGuinness said the maxim that ‘flying west is best’ holds true, while ‘flying east is a beast’ as you fast-forward through time zones.

She added that some research has indicated that for every time zone crossed during a flight equates to one day until you feel fully fit again.

The event was held in partnership with Amber Road, Virgin Atlantic, Melia Hotels, ANA, South Western Railways and The Business Travel Magazine. It was organised by David Clare and The Business Travel Network.