You shouldn’t expect Sarah from accounting to pay for her own accommodation on that compulsory business trip you sent her on. That’s just not right. Of course, every company is different. Some businesses may provide each employee with a company credit card, for example, whereas others may not be able to afford that luxury. But no matter how you manage employee expenses, you need make sure you regulate them often and fairly.
Here are three pointers that can help you manage employee expenses better.
1. Create a firm (but fair) policy
It’s important to be crystal clear with your employees. Discuss your expense and purchase policies openly and ensure that you make a policy document readily available.
This document should be thorough and easy to read. Don’t leave room for misinterpretation or confusion. If an employee is unsure whether they can or cannot claim an expense, and consequently have to contact you to find out, it can waste valuable business time.
Try to talk openly about the process so that your employees don’t forget to claim expenses or feel like a nuisance when they do. If they know the process inside out there’s less scope for errors or awkward emails.
2. Make it work for everyone
Expenses should be made in the interest of the business and the individual.
Naturally you don’t want your business to be out of pocket, but you shouldn’t make your employees fish out their own money either. The general rule of managing employee expenses is: if they need to spend money for work purposes, reimburse them. You can’t make your team work for free!
Matthew Stibbe, CEO of Articulate, believes that employees shouldn’t be out of pocket because of their work for Articulate. As well as reimbursing colleagues’ expenses, Matthew also provides them each with a ‘Happiness Account’.
We want employees to have a happy, productive, efficient working environment, so we give them some money to help pay for reasonable investments to achieve it. We encourage our employees to spend this money.
Not every business can afford to offer employees this bonus, but all businesses should appreciate and respect the expense and purchasing process.
3. Make it as painless as possible
Unless you’re a fan of paperwork, you won’t want to take hours to manage employee expenses. You need to make the process as simple, clear and painless as possible. You can do this by:
- Giving your employees trust and autonomy to claim their own expenses: you don’t need to do it on their behalf. Just make sure that they send the appropriate information, receipts and emails along with their claims. Any expenses that cannot be proved with accompanying information may be an example of fraudulent
- Reimbursing purchases and expenses quickly. Your employees shouldn’t have to chase up overdue payments. Try setting expense deadlines or reimburse your employees on their payday.
- Going paperless. It can be a long, tiring process to manage expenses when you have to sign off two or three forms for each claim and then post them to your accountant. By managing your employee expenses online, you can save hours of paperwork. Just think of how many headaches that could prevent!
Sharing the purse strings
No matter what your business can afford when it comes to employee expenses, the surest way to regulate them and keep costs under control is to give your employees ownership. If they trust and respect the company they’re more likely to abide by a clear expense process. It’s really that simple.