As their workforces increasingly become mobile, organizations should do more to effectively measure and manage mobility programs, according to Runzheimer International. In finding that nearly three-quarters of 90 respondents to a September survey "believe their companies are effectively managing mobile workforce programs, but do not necessarily have measurement mechanisms in place," the firm suggested that "a contradiction emerged."
Meanwhile, in a separate March-December 2010 survey, Runzheimer found that costs per traveler increased versus 2009 but remained below 2008 peaks, based on business travel data provided by 65 organizations.
Including the entire base of 105 respondents from that second survey, an average of 45 percent of organizations' workforce is mobile. The average annual investment in a mobile workforce equated to $7,350 per employee, "regardless if they are mobile or not." That metric, according to Runzheimer, "is comparable to providing health insurance," and has held steady since 2009, "reinforcing the value of the mobile workforce given tighter budgets."
The September survey of 90 executives found that the biggest benefit of a mobile workforce was employee satisfaction (cited by 26 percent), followed by competitive advantage (25 percent), cost savings (22 percent) and corporate agility (16 percent). The biggest concern was "employee management/supervision/productivity" (46 percent), followed by "measurement of program success" (8 percent).
One-third of respondents said their organizations track mobility program costs, 31 percent use best practices and benchmarks, 27 percent indicated centralized management in one office and 7 percent said they measure return on investment. This research, according to Runzheimer International president Greg Harper, "raises the question of whether or not organizations really understand the holistic nature of their mobile workforce programs. The need for formal assessment to measure results, from ROI to employee satisfaction, has never been more important."
In other findings on employee mobility, Runzheimer reported that 67 organizations on average annually spend $8,897 directly per driver in vehicle/fleet management programs--"roughly flat" from 2009. Thirty-eight percent expected an increase in spending this year and 41 percent anticipated more drivers.
Business Travel Benchmarks
Resurgent business travel volumes reinforce the need for better mobility program management. Based on data from 65 organizations, "for the first time in three years, we see growth in the projected increase in business travelers," according to Runzheimer. It found that about one-third of respondents expected higher total travel program spending this year and 39 percent anticipated no change.
That would follow a year of growth. In 2010, the average direct spend per traveler among the research sample rose 6 percent to $10,292, but remained below the 2008 peak of $10,740. Average support spend per traveler jumped 22 percent to $350, well under the 2008 peak of $468. According to the report: "Direct spend includes items such as airplane tickets, lodging, meals, car rental and rail tickets ... support costs include the cost of both internal and outsourced resources, technology, and processes that enable [the administration of] the program as intended, such as fees paid to an outsourced provider for administering your travel program, agency fees, and pro-rated salaries and benefits of those individuals within your organization that support your program."
Runzheimer noted that total spend per traveler trends similarly to that of the Travel Price Index (a seasonally unadjusted inflation rate that measures the cost of travel within the United States), itself "directly comparable to the Consumer Price Index."
Similarly, average cost per trip in 2010 was $2,031, well ahead of the prior year ($1,381). Direct spend per trip jumped more than $600 to $1,950, and support costs per trip nearly doubled to $81.
At the same time, Runzheimer suggested that travel programs last year became less efficient last year, with one full-time equivalent supporting 565 travelers, down from 861 in 2009. Unsurprisingly, programs at organizations with more than 10,000 employees on average were most efficient, with 834 travelers per FTE in 2010.
Meanwhile, almost three-quarters of survey respondents indicated that they outsource "at least some" of their business travel program, though slightly more "are unsure if they intend to outsource additional components in the next year." That finding, according to Runzheimer, could suggest that "many organizations are trying to understand the benefits and return on investment of utilizing an outsourced provider for travel program management."