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Tag: Travel

Air traffic control failure sparks travel chaos

The aftermath of the recent bank holiday (28 August) has resulted in a significant upheaval in air travel, with numerous passengers finding themselves stranded and several employees unable to reach their workplaces.

An extensive breakdown in air traffic control systems is believed to be responsible for the widespread problem, leading to the cancellation of over 1,200 flights.

The consequences have been substantial, leaving thousands of travellers marooned due to flight cancellations. The disruption has rippled across the travel plans of more than 200,000 individuals, causing substantial delays and cancellations.

Travellers have been cautioned to brace themselves for ongoing disturbances throughout the week. HR leaders have a range of options at their disposal to aid affected employees in these circumstances.

ConnectWise’s Chief People Officer, Jen Locklear, offered guidance, suggesting a considerate approach. In an interview she emphasised that days of work missed because of being stranded shouldn’t impact an employee’s annual leave. The foremost approach is to support them wholeheartedly and express gratitude for their dedication to the company.

Locklear advised HR to proactively assist stranded employees, acknowledging the likely stress they are experiencing. She recommended, “Begin by assigning a designated point of contact within the organisation who will concentrate on exploring alternative transportation options for the employee. This, at the very least, will help the individual feel supported.”

She further added, “Secondly, ensure that essential needs are met: confirm the employee’s access to food, accommodation, and personal belongings (or the means to obtain necessities in case belongings are inaccessible). If the stranded employee has dependents at home, extend assistance such as delivering food or arranging pet care and maintain communication with their family. This gesture will foster loyalty and contribute to a positive employment reputation and experience.”

Kate Palmer, HR Consultancy Director at Peninsula, a HR service provider, emphasised the employees’ responsibility to communicate with their employers if they cannot return to work as planned. Palmer noted, “In today’s world, nearly everyone possesses a mobile phone, minimising the possibility of an employee being unable to promptly reach out to their employer. Failure to establish communication could initially be treated as unauthorised absence, until the reasons for their absence are clarified.”

Addressing payment during such absences, Palmer clarified that employers are not obligated to maintain regular payment unless the employee uses their annual leave. She suggested, “The absence is likely to be brief, lasting a day or two. It’s advisable to find common ground regarding categorising the absence; an option could be agreeing on additional annual leave.”

“In instances where no other arrangement can be reached, unpaid leave is a viable consideration. Unless the employment contract specifies otherwise, there is no legal obligation to provide payment to employees absent due to these circumstances,” she added.

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Work-related travel on the upswing

With international travel making a strong comeback, an increasing number of employees anticipate work-related journeys, be it long-term assignments, permanent relocations, or short business trips.

Employers echo these expectations, as indicated by Cartus’ pulse survey report on the global mobility program for 2023. The survey revealed that 37% of respondents anticipate a rise in relocation volumes this year, with 36% expecting to move between 100 and 500 employees. The report emphasizes the ongoing significance of mobility for businesses, though it also highlights the emerging challenges posed by remote work, self-initiated moves, and compliance for business travelers.

The survey asked employers about their top global mobility priorities for 2023, and three key areas emerged. First and foremost, employers prioritized enhancing the employee experience, likely driven by the difficulties faced by employees in 2022 due to supply chain disruptions, complex immigration requirements, and a lack of affordable temporary accommodations worldwide. Second, program optimization ranked high on the agenda, with mobility managers seeking tech-based solutions to streamline mobility delivery. Lastly, compliance came in third place, reflecting the growing need for employers to navigate both local and global laws while offering mobility and flexibility to employees and future talents.

Karen Wilks, Vice President of Strategic Growth at Cartus, observed that the top three priorities for employers are interconnected, but she acknowledged the challenges involved in addressing them. Wilks highlighted that improving employee experience while overcoming hurdles like supply chain slowdowns and escalating costs would be an uphill task.

David Pascoe, Executive Senior Vice President of Global Talent Mobility for EMEA and APAC at Cartus, emphasized the pivotal role of relocation in many organizations, which has put increased pressure on HR and mobility professionals. These professionals struggle with limited resources and the complexity of supporting assignees and meeting the diverse needs of the business, especially with the rise of distributed workforces and the management of remote work requests.

Cartus’ Remote Work Landscape pulse survey report found that 25% of respondents estimated spending up to 40 hours per month managing remote work requests. To address challenges like remote work, cost containment, and talent competition, implementing robust solutions such as integrated technology or partnering with relocation services providers becomes crucial to ensuring the productivity and overall success of HR and mobility teams.

Regarding the biggest mobility challenges in 2023, employers identified three key areas: rising costs, talent availability and deployment, and the evolution of mobility to include remote work and self-initiated moves. While travel expenses have increased, employers are seeking ways to reduce costs and offset market hikes. Additionally, attracting key talent remains a concern, and offering choices and flexibility aids in retaining top employees. To support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), mobility policies need to be reviewed proactively, and inclusionary language should be incorporated to foster a sense of belonging among employees.

Karen Wilks highlighted the growing importance of mobility professionals in shaping mobility policies to align with DEI priorities and provide positive relocation experiences for employees. Cartus’ Mobility Matters podcast, which focuses on optimizing the employee experience, will explore a range of topics related to creating an inclusive workplace, from cultivating belonging to promoting true inclusion. Wilks emphasized that mobility policies are closely tied to DEI principles, supporting a diverse range of employees and their families throughout the relocation process.

With global mobility gaining momentum, Cartus looks forward to engaging in valuable conversations with experts from the mobility industry and beyond, ensuring that listeners of the Mobility Matters podcast gain actionable insights for their day-to-day roles.

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