Why it’s time to conduct an expense policy MOT

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Just before the most recent lockdown, travelling to work was down 44% and many predict that when people do return to the office, it won’t be at anywhere near the same levels as before. As a result, it’s never been more important to take stock of current employee expense policies and ensure that they support the changing needs of today’s workforce.

Cultivate a policy that reflects company culture  

A company’s expense policy isn’t just an administrative task that, once written, should be considered done and dusted. Instead, it should be dynamic and properly reflect a company’s culture and commitment to employees.

A carefully designed expense policy that’s in line with company values and employee needs is not only beneficial to morale, it also improves employee retention rates. A solid and reliable expense policy is a top priority for employees, as numerous studies have shown employees would look for another job if their employer consistently failed to reimburse expenses on time.

During these unpredictable times, travel and expense policies need to stay agile and adaptable to the changing work environment. Responsive policies provide the workforce with an important feeling of safety and assurance and help bolster their mental and physical wellbeing, and a one-size-fits-all policy no longer works.

 

Rethink company perks

Offering the right kinds of job perks and benefits is key to employee happiness in today’s work environment. In a pre-coronavirus world, the entire office may have been treated to drinks every Thursday, but with remote working becoming a fixture for the foreseeable future, these old perks must be revised to fit employees’ new wants and needs. Instead of happy hours, many companies are offering lunch deliveries to boost motivation throughout the day.

A handful of big businesses, such as Twitter, have already announced that employees can work from home indefinitely with many others  striving to offer employees the option to work from home even when offices eventually reopen. All of this demonstrates the priority companies are placing on their workforce’s comfort and wellbeing.

To better support employees, many companies have also reevaluated their childcare policies, with some offering more flexible schedules, and others even providing paid lockdown leave for parents and carers facing urgent childcare issues.

Such changes give companies the opportunity to create expense programmes that go well beyond traditional travel and entertainment expenses and positively shape the broader company culture moving forward.

 

Modernise the expense process

Once a clear and responsive corporate expense policy has been developed, it’s vital that companies have the proper systems in place to apply such policies consistently and efficiently. Companies should also be able to spot new types of expenses and patterns of expense behaviour that could necessitate future policy changes.

Given today’s highly-virtualised work world, technology solutions are essential for businesses to manage employee expenses and reimbursement. Manual expense processing is simply too slow and cumbersome. Adopting automated solutions can ensure that policies are easily administered and updated when needed. AI-powered solutions can spot mistakes and policy violations, make fast and intelligent reimbursement decisions and provide real-time insight into employee spend behaviours.

Working conditions have fundamentally changed and corporate expense policies should reflect this. In order to ensure that companies are future-proofed, expense policies must be modernised and built to be adaptive. Conducting an expense policy ‘MOT’ not only helps to keep such policies updated, it can reinforce company values, boost productivity and promote employee happiness and wellbeing.

 

Andrew Foster is VP consulting EMEA at AppZen