For many people in management or accounting, the nightmare scenario for sending an employee on a working trip is a sizable abuse of the expense report system. While the majority of employees are loyal, responsible and do the jobs they are sent to do, some employees severely exploit the lack of supervision while traveling and can make false expense reports that may reimburse them for significant amounts of money they did not actually spend.
In the majority of cases where employee fraud with expense reports occur, it’s usually confined to a very tiny section of employees that repeatedly abuse the system. However, not all employees are quite as ambitiously greedy. Some employees, either fearing being caught, or else simply that not demanding, may be more cautious, making small “adjustments” to their expense reports, and only inflating them by a small amount. In cases such as this, the loss to a company isn’t great, but the fact that it’s happening at all is still worrying, so why does this kind of smaller exploitation occur?
Scales Of Conscience
Not all employees that abuse a system are necessarily relentless, rebellious insubordinates that want to “take down the system,” or even “take a company for all it’s worth.” In some cases, people that make minor cheats to the system may still feel a certain amount of loyalty, and that’s why they don’t make false expense reports with bigger, fake expenditures behind them. An employee sitting down to dinner, for example, may order a much nicer dinner for him or herself with a quality steak and a good wine, but then write that added expense as part of an business dinner.
Part of the thinking in scenarios like this is that an employee may be looking for a “treat.” He or she is far from home, working, possibly throughout a week and/or weekend, and there is, in some ways, a feeling of going above and beyond the call of duty for the good of the company. If there’s a strict budget allowance for meals, for example, then this same employee may consider it a “white lie,” if, while alone, hungry, and having just worked a full day, he or she indulges in one nicer meal at the company’s expense.
Make Allowances For Allowances
While modern software such as ExpensePoint can act as a filter to catch these moments of indiscretion, another way to reduce them is to show some appreciation. If small expense “bumps” like this are occurring, one potential way to eliminate these is to be more mindful of the needs of traveling employees.
Take the time and budget to show an appreciation for what they are doing for the company. Most employees don’t need to have the red carpet treatment when they’re sent off to work somewhere. However, being a bit more generous with travel allowances and acknowledging that after a hard day’s work in a strange city or country, a nice dinner has been earned can help a lot. And it may just cut down on the number of false reports that something like ExpensePoint can find for you.