Creating and Enforcing Expense Policies: The Happy Medium for Cost Control and Employee Satisfaction
Corporate travel and expense policies have long been a hot-button issue for HR departments. On one side are traveling employees, who want to be able to choose the airlines and hotel chains where they have high status, or select flights and lodgings that are more convenient for them. On the other side are CFOs and corporate controllers, whose primary focus is to manage costs and minimize unnecessary spend. While these may seem like two groups that will never find common ground, a combination of reasonable policies, intelligent enforcement, and smart technology tools can keep all parties happy.
It’s estimated that expense fraud committed by employees adds up to nearly $3 billion per year across North America. How can HR teams prevent this from happening at their organization?
If your CFO or controller asked you to provide the organization’s total travel spend over the past year, how would you get that data? The obvious (and traditional) answer is to ask for reports from your travel agency, breaking down hotel, flight and rental car costs. That should give you a pretty accurate figure, right? Well – not really.
Business travel is a topic that can engender huge differences in opinion among those whose jobs require them to spend time on the road. For some, it’s viewed as a perk, for others, a burden. Regardless of whether your employees love or loathe life on the road, it's essential to optimize the traveler experience.
Expense fraud can happen at even the best-run organizations, but your company can definitely arm itself with the tools and processes to rein it in.
Creating an effective expense policy is a balancing act. You need to walk the fine line between eliminating unnecessary costs and establishing a policy that is reasonable and workable for employees and managers alike. Create a policy that’s too lax and you’ll watch travel costs skyrocket. Create one that’s too stringent and you’ll end up with impractical restrictions, unhappy business travelers, and an increased risk of expense fraud.
Businesses lose an estimated $2.8 billion per to expense fraud in the U.S. alone. How does this happen, and what can be done to prevent it?
In a previous post we spoke a little about the recent GBTA / American Express Business Traveler Sentiment Survey, and the impact of booking and expense policies on business travelers. This week, let’s look at how organizations can best bridge the generation gap when it comes to providing a better experience for their largest (and growing) audience - Millennials.
The Global Business Travel Association recently announced the results of its Business Traveler Sentiment Index Global Report. The report assesses the overall happiness with several aspects of travelers’ overall experience, from making travel arrangements through to getting through airport security and taking various forms of ground and air transport.
Corporate travel and expense policy compliance is a constant theme in the business travel industry. Although using the corporate expense policy manual as a stick to beat your travelers may be a short-term solution to enforce compliance, it doesn’t address the underlying issues of why employees don’t adhere to the policy, and could also alienate travelers by imposing regulations that reduce productivity and create frustration.
Ah, here we are, the ever-popular debate on the pros vs the cons of corporate card programs! Why should businesses allow employees to have corporate cards? Some feel that they have the potential to increase the organization’s financial exposure, risk employees racking up large bills, and are potentially tricky for finance teams to both implement and manage on an ongoing basis. Done right, however, corporate credit and payment cards can offer wide-ranging financial, operational and security benefits.
Anyone who has looked at some of the perks that companies offer will understand that any forward-thinking organization places a premium on attracting and retaining the best talent. When you factor that it costs an average of 6-9 months’ salary to replace an employee, spending a little extra to keep your team happy is a sound investment. The hard cost of employee turnover is, of course, just one issue here. Companies’ ability to thrive is reliant upon attracting and retaining the best talent. Being unable to keep and hire staff can have a seriously detrimental impact on an organization’s overall health.
We’d all love to fly first class and eat steak dinners on somebody else’s dime, but if everyone did that, many companies would run out of cash pretty quickly. Therefore, creating a sensible expense policy is a must for any organization to both control costs and, as we recently said in our white paper, reduce business expense fraud. Without a clear policy, staff are left in the dark about what is and isn’t allowed, and will just assume how much they can spend. And we all know what “assume” does.
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- Creating and Enforcing Expense Policies: The Happy Medium for Cost Control and Employee Satisfaction
- Why the Manual Invoice Processing Model Is Broken (And How to Fix It)
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Wow! This Chrome River is great. Word has spread [in our firm] and people that were not invited to be in the pilot group rollout have asked to be included!