Why Do My Millennial Staff Think Business Trips Are Vacations?!

Ok. Let’s just admit it: some of the things that younger people do can come off as a little, well… misguided: wearing their hair in top knots/man buns (hmm), taking selfies (a bit vain, but ok), and citing the ridiculous cost of living as a valid reason for a pay rise (welcome to the club…).

But combining business travel with leisure? They might be onto something.

There can be little doubt that the Millennial generation has well and truly cemented itself in the workplace. Yup, these tech-savvy twentysomethings have finally come of age and are qualified, ready, and able to start climbing the corporate ladder. In fact, stats show that by 2020 they’ll account for 46% of the workforce — and by 2030, some 75%.

Millennials have grown up in a digital world; an online world where messages are sent instantly and information’s found quickly and easily. They’re all about efficiency and output in the workplace; they’re not overly concerned with formality and tend to prefer flatter management structures. And they’re less inclined to hang around in a job if it doesn’t offer them the opportunities they’re looking for.

And, as they’re supposedly the most well-travelled generation ever, for most Millennials any travel opportunity is worth making the most of — and it seems more and more of them are keen to tag on a few days vacation time to their business trips.

They can’t do that! Can they? Work is work — whether they’re in London, Ontario or London, England!

If you’ve ever been to London (England) then you’ll know that there’s so much to see. We’re not just talking the usual tourist sights like London Bridge, the Tower of London, and Big Ben; there’s lots to experience and explore: classy Chelsea, cinematic Notting Hill, the East End, historic Greenwich — and more besides. And given the popularity of low cost peer-to-peer accommodation options like Airbnb, there are even more affordable ways for travelers to experience them all: on their own dime.

So, how can travel managers ensure that their Millennial employees get the most out of their business trips, while satisfying the commercial needs of the company? Well, the thing is Millennials don’t expect the company to bankroll their adventures. What they want is flexibility. If you’re paying for someone to fly to Europe from the US for work, all you need to do is ensure they get there, get back, and get the job done. Extending their return flight for a few extra days so they can go exploring once their three days of meetings are done can’t hurt. Heck, it may even be cheaper — good news for the CFO.

Time and money are both precious commodities. Sometimes letting employees choose their business accommodation can be a perk. Letting them spend $50-$100 more on a hotel with great amenities like a gym, free Wi-Fi, breakfast, or beach access is important. Equally, giving employees the option to choose their flights (within a given budget) is a bonus. Whether they choose to have more leg room, upgrade to a Premium seat, or choose to make a stopover en route home — it’s all about being able to exercise choice and preference.

Ultimately when giving Millennials, or any employee for that matter, increased flexibility in making their own travel arrangements it’s important that you, the travel manager, set proper boundaries within the travel policy. The employee should have a clear understanding of what is and what isn’t reimbursable to avoid any conflict.

A little bit of downtime on a work trip can have a big influence on an employee’s morale. Living in a constant work environment isn’t very healthy, so everyone needs to experience some perks on the road. With the average Millennial job tenure lasting two years, having some flexibility in your company’s travel policy could in fact play a part in helping retain talented young employees.

Ultimately, most Millennials are quick to realise that with so much of the world to see, you never know when you’ll be able to go back to places and experience them again.

After all: YOLO*…

*Ask a Millennial.