Sustainability Still Not Part of Business Agenda: Only 11% Prioritising Sustainable Business Travel Post-Pandemic, Despite Employee Demand

  • Almost two thirds (61%) of employees surveyed said the pandemic has made them rethink how they travel
    • Generational differences show 48% employees aged 16-24 plan on using trains more, whereas 50% aged 55+ will use trains less
    • The majority of employees surveyed (57%) said they would be more encouraged to take the train if their employer offered incentives around it
  • 70% of employers surveyed acknowledge it is their organisation’s responsibility to enable sustainable business travel
  • Yet, only 1 in nine (11%) of employers list sustainability as an important factor right now for business travel arrangements

Emburse, a global leader in spend management, is announcing the findings of its latest survey, aiming to understand current attitudes towards building back business travel post-pandemic.

A survey of 1,022 UK employees and 250 employers asked questions around business travel and sustainability. The data shows the demand from employees for more sustainable business travel, compared with a lack of prioritisation from employers.

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“With fewer business trips, companies should be investing in better, more sustainable travel for their employees – without having to increase travel budgets. ”

Key findings:

  • Changing travel choices
    • Almost two-thirds (61%) of those surveyed said the pandemic has made them rethink how they travel
    • Almost half (48%) of those aged 16-24 said they would be using the train more than before the pandemic, more than double the amount of employees aged 55+ (20%)
    • Covid safety weighs in as the most important factor for over a third (34%) for employers to consider right now for business travel arrangements
      • Cost is the second most important factor, with 17% of employers listing this as an important consideration
      • Only 1 in nine (11%) employers list sustainability as a factor, with other most important factors being efficiency (13%) and shortest journey (9%)
  • Sustainability and increased travel budgets
    • Half (50%) of employers said they would consider offering employees incentives or a higher travel budget threshold to take the train in order to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint
    • 70% of employers surveyed acknowledge it is their organisation’s responsibility to enable sustainable business travel
    • The majority of those surveyed (57%) said they would be more encouraged to take the train if their employer offered incentives around it
    • Almost half of travelers (49%) said they agree that they choose the most eco-friendly mode of transport for a trip, with one fifth (21%) disagreeing with the statement
  • The cost versus sustainability issue
    • The top three approaches to sustainable trips ranked in order of importance:
      • Over a third of respondents said: cutting down number of trips (35%)
      • A quarter of respondents said: combining trips (25%)
      • 1 in 5 of respondents said: minimising air travel (22%)
    • Almost third of travellers (30%) say they would choose a more expensive trip in order to be travelling more sustainably

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Kenny Eon, GM and SVP EMEA at Emburse commented on the findings:

“Undoubtedly business travel declined dramatically at the start of COVID, but the increasing numbers show that the appetite is still there. Whilst the past year with virtual meetings has been successful, there is a lot of pent-up desire for face-to-face meetings. We may not return to pre-Covid levels soon, but knowing that a considerable amount of travel will come back, it’s important that employers are considering more sustainable options.

“With fewer business trips, companies should be investing in better, more sustainable travel for their employees – without having to increase travel budgets.

“Climate change is a real issue, and we all need to be making a conscious effort to change our habits and help protect our planet. Businesses need to lead the charge and sustainable business travel is an important first step.”