Business trips aren’t always all business.
Over half of full-time employees in the U.S. (54.5 percent) travel for business. Many people have offices, clients, or customers in various locales, and many industry trade conferences require travel to attend. A recent study found that employees in the marketing and advertising industry spent 13.6 percent of the year traveling for work-related reasons, the most of any industry. Construction and technology were the next two industries to see its employees spending a lot of time during the year traveling for business, 12.7 percent and 11.3 percent respectively.
Business travelers are most likely spending quite a lot of time with other colleagues or clients during these work trips. “You’re in close proximity while doing your actual job, but then after your work is done, it’s time for happy hour and dinner,” says the study.
“Most conferences will also usually end with some kind of networking event, at the conclusion of the end of the seminars and workshops. All of these after-work activities will inevitably involve the consumption of alcohol – and that can lead people down a slippery slope. While on a business trip, most employees – over half of those surveyed – got drunk outside of working hours, and almost 30 percent got drunk during a work event. It was more often those in managerial positions who dared to over consume while they were working, while both managers and employees almost equally drank outside work events," the study continues.
Those managers also “more frequently used marijuana or other illicit drugs, visited strip clubs, and met up with someone from a dating app or website.” This could be because managers may feel as though they are the “ones in charge,” with no one else above them to check their actions, while employees do have managers above them watching their every move. There may also be instances where it is the “client who encourages a manager to go out and drink or engage in other activities.”
The study also found that the amount of money a person earns annually has a large effect on their behavior in the workplace, be it because of feelings of entitlement or simply because of varying lifestyles. “Employees who earned an annual income of $75,000 or more were more likely to engage in illicit or sexual activities during a business trip, with the exception of using marijuana. These employees make more money; therefore, they likely have more money to spend, and the activities they participate in are usually things that can rack up a big bill. Drinks at a hotel bar, for instance, are usually much more expensive than your typical pub or restaurant. In some extreme cases, cocktails could be as much as $20 or more.”
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a business trip can result in witnessing something you simply cannot unsee. How does one react to something as significant as seeing his or her co-worker or boss participating in an illicit or sexual act, especially when it’s something illegal or something that could potentially ruin relationships at home?
“People on business trips most often saw their co-workers, rather than their managers or bosses, engage in drunken conduct both during and outside of work hours,” said the study. “However, when it came to witnessing someone cheating on their significant other, it was the bosses who were caught doing so more often than co-workers – not by much, only a 1.8 percent point difference between the two. The only other instance when bosses were witnessed participating in an unprofessional activity more than co-workers is stealing.”
Is hitting on someone who is not your significant other considered cheating even if nothing happens? The levels of “cheating” explored during business trips range from the mere act of thinking about cheating to actually committing the deed.
“As many as one in five people who were in relationships considered cheating with someone or have hit on someone while on a business trip. While it was mainly strangers who people considered cheating with, 7.6 percent also considered cheating with their co-workers. When it came to taking the next step and hitting on someone, 13.4 percent of those traveling for business chose strangers instead. Then there is the case of the physical act of cheating, such as making out with or having sex with someone who is not the person’s significant other. The cheating happened most frequently with a stranger – 6.5 percent of men and 4.1 percent of women.”
The study says the “the unfamiliarity of being away from your everyday routine, the exhilaration of getting away with something so secretive and taboo, or even the thrill of possibly getting caught in the act” are the main reasons people behave differently while away on business.
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