Overcoming the pain of change

02 Dec 2016

Simone Seiler

Customer Experience Leader - Corporate Traveller Australia

Implementing a new workplace system requires changes in behaviour from staff to succeed.  

The technical challenges of introducing new technology or admin processes often pale in comparison to the biggest change obstacle of all, internal resistance.

New business travel policies are particularly vulnerable to internal resistance due to the unavoidable connection to a person's individual experience.  While the rationale for implementing changes may be completely sound, it's often irrelevant to the traveller who has to accept a loss of loyalty status or a reduction in the comfort they regularly enjoy when travelling.  Changing a business travel program usually consists of the following:

• Creation and rollout of a new travel policy.
• New technology implementation.
• Implementing new booking and approvals processes.

All these elements require engagement and action from internal and external stakeholders.  The implementation process also requires day to day management to minimise non-compliance after rollout.

There are three key steps to minimising internal resistance when changing your travel policy:

1. Designing a change

Identify what you want to achieve with your new travel program.  

Engage a professional Travel Manager to design a policy that meets your business objectives.  This step should identify the top level goals for your travel program such as spending reductions, more efficient booking processes, simpler cost reconciliation and increased visibility of your expenditure.

Work with your travel implementation team to anticipate problems and formulate a strategy for rolling out your changes.

2. Deploying a change

Communicate your new policy throughout your business.

Work alongside your travel implementation team to identify the best ways to educate your staff on tracking success.  A common cause of traveller friction is a poorly communicated rationale for change.  Counteracting this friction requires circulation and explanation of your new policy as well as training on new booking systems and procedures.  Other steps you can take include:

• Engaging with your travellers to identify those who will incur a loss in status or rewards as a result of the new policy.
• Take advantage of your Travel Manager's network to compensate staff who may lose benefits as a result of the changes.  This can include recompense items such as airline lounge passes or individual concessions for higher booking classes.
• Tailor communication to affected travellers outlining the need for policy changes, the objectives for your new policy and any efforts the company is taking to alleviate losses in status and rewards.

3. Driving a change

Promote the importance of policy compliance.

Engage with your Travel Manager for reporting and commentary on how you are tracking against your objectives.  Your Travel Manager can analyse where your policy is leaking and determine new tactics to optimise and combat non-compliance.  

Your company should also consistently report your rate of policy compliance to your travellers.  Identifying and recruiting key people in your organisation to help drive the behaviour change is also a valuable counter-measure to non-compliance.