There’s no question that maintaining work-life balance is an important part of cutting stress and keeping your workforce healthy and happy. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that a whopping 60 percent of Americans report work as a major cause of stress – and even more alarming – that stress is proving to have serious health effects. Workers with high job demands are 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a medical condition than those without this stressor.
Cloud and mobile technologies are arguably the culprit in this blurring of the work-life boundary. While the always-on nature of modern business is helping workers to be more productive, it also means that the office is always in their pocket – enabling work to follow them everywhere, regardless of their physical location. Particularly for mobile employees – those who already spend the majority of their time outside of a physical office, driving for work – the constant access and use of mobile and cloud technologies can make it feel like they’re always on the clock.
Fortunately, the same technologies that are causing these work-life and stress issues are now also helping businesses to solve them. And what’s more, the companies that implement them are realizing measurable business benefits.
According to a survey from TechValidate, mobile workers that use mileage reimbursement technology save time throughout the day – time that they then use to complete administrative tasks sooner (49 percent), visit additional clients or stores (38 percent) and spend more time with their families (24 percent). Advanced technologies can also help these mobile employees and their businesses by making administrative tasks less labor-intensive, saving time and money; and by integrating with other systems or workflows, streamlining operational processes.
Below are five examples of how technology can help reduce stress for businesses with large mobile workforces:
1. Eliminating Manual Processes Associated with Mileage Reimbursement
The task of manually recording business trip details throughout the day leads to mundane administrative work for both mobile employees and their managers. By automatically capturing each trip’s details, recording IRS-required data points (e.g. trip date, trip origin, trip destination, trip purpose, trip mileage) and calculating the mileage between trip stops, mileage reimbursement technology truly allows businesses to “set it and forget it” when it comes to accurate vehicle mileage tracking.
In fact, in a recent TechValidate survey, 63 percent of respondents reported saving 30 minutes or more each week thanks to automated mileage reporting. One respondent, a marketing professional at a medium enterprise beverage company, captured the work-life benefits of mileage reimbursement technology perfectly, saying: “I save time on my admin work at home, opening up more time for me to pre-plan work the next day or to enjoy time with my wife and kids.”
2. Identifying Optimal Routes in Order to Reduce Traffic Related Stress
For workers who drive for company business every day, sitting in traffic can be a particularly harmful stressor. In fact, researchers found that traffic-induced stress is associated with higher blood sugar, cholesterol, depression, anxiety and blood pressure levels, amongst other worrisome health concerns.
Advanced technologies tailored for mobile workers can combat traffic stress by offering functionality that allows users to pre-load a list of business stops for an upcoming day, or even pull those stops from a saved “Favorite Locations” list. With the click of a button, route optimization technologies can order a user’s stops based on the most efficient sequence, while also providing the most optimal route between each stop. Automatic route optimization can provide businesses substantial traffic time savings, greater fuel efficiency, reduce costs (particularly if employees are paid hourly) and cut driver stress.
3. Reducing Amount of Time Mobile Workers Spend Updating Various Systems
Mobile employees have a unique set of demands placed on them as they travel from location to location each day. They need to track where they’ve been, when they were there, what they did, who they met with and any associated costs/expenses. The problem is, recording that data takes time away from the employee’s core job functions. Consider this troubling statistic: Docurated’s State of Sales Productivity 2015 study found that sales reps spend 20 percent of their time on CRM, reporting and other administrative tasks – and only 33 percent of their time actually selling.
Today, businesses and their mobile employees can harness technology to reduce reporting inefficiencies and be more productive. By integrating mileage tracking and reporting with commonly-used solutions like Oracle, Salesforce and Concur, mobile workforces can eliminate disparate access points and streamline administrative tasks. For instance, rather than submitting expenses for mileage reimbursements in one system and all other travel and expense data in another such as Concur, integrated technologies can automatically compile and deliver users’ mileage reimbursement expenses at the end of each month, and submit that data directly to users’ respective managers for approval.
4. Outsourcing Vehicle Program Administration
Historically, businesses often needed to employ full-time staff to handle the administration of vehicle reimbursement or fleet programs. Today’s technologies, however, can automate this process, configuring each program and its rules upfront and requiring little intervention on behalf of users. Some of the historically tedious tasks that mobile and cloud technologies can seamlessly automate include:
- Insurance Validation/Verification (i.e. handling the task of proving that employees are properly insured)
- Collection of Accurate Business Stop Details/Mileage
- Calculation and Ongoing Administration of Reimbursement Rates
- Year-End Taxability Calculations
- Monthly Funds Disbursement (i.e. automatically pushing reimbursement funds to each user’s bank account)
- Streamlined Approval Process (i.e. prominently flagging exceptions or out-of-compliance outliers if/when administrative attention is required)
5. Creating an Easy Way to Decipher Commute Deductions
To substantiate mileage reimbursements, mobile employees’ business trips must be tracked and documented. Some companies do collect total mileage from employees, but the IRS requires more detailed information that many employee mileage logs don’t cover, such as the individual trip mileage, date, destination, and business purpose. Failure to follow these IRS guidelines can cause serious headaches. In fact, one California business owner owed over $5,000 plus an accuracy penalty after an IRS audit found his handwritten mileage logs fell woefully short of government standards.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to understand the IRS commute mileage guidelines. Employees who attempt to follow the rules and appropriately calculate (and deduct) daily commute mileage often find the process very time consuming and imprecise. Thankfully, comprehensive vehicle management technologies can capture, store and report all business travel information without creating mountains of paperwork. Employers can leverage mobile apps to automate employee mileage capture and accurately differentiate their employees’ business, commute and personal miles – regardless of whether they’re being reimbursed or driving a company-owned vehicle.
In today’s business landscape, time is a precious commodity. And for those employees who drive for business every day, maintaining a level of organization and efficiency is paramount to achieving work-life balance. By implementing automated and comprehensive mobile and cloud technologies, both employers and employees can alleviate work-related stress, eliminate manual processes, drive greater operational productivity and gain back time in their personal lives.