Enforcing strict expense management policies is essential for companies looking to save on expenses but runs the risk of making employees feel disenfranchised and micromanaged. Companies that use technology to monitor staff spend can achieve better expense management without damaging employees’ trust.
Matt Goss, managing director – Australia & New Zealand, Concur, said, “Businesses need to keep a close eye on expense-related issues such as taxes, labour regulations and return on investment. This makes finance managers very controlling when it comes to monitoring who is spending what. It is important they recognise that becoming too controlling can make employees feel annoyed, or encourage them to be less productive.
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“More companies should be letting technology monitor and control expenses, which tends to empower employees when it comes to making decisions. This lets employees know they are in control of their own actions and trusted, which often results in trustworthy behaviour. Having a culture of trust can make a big difference in the race to attract the right talent.”
The ‘responsibility culture’ trend is becoming more popular, with organisations giving employees more responsibility so they can feel in control of their own, and the company’s, success.
“Employees with these values are set to thrive in a company culture of responsibility where an individual’s highest work performance is expected and their fidelity to the bottom line and the greater good is assumed,” Goss said.
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Concur has identified four areas where employees should be responsible for their actions to help drive better productivity:
1) Expense management: Most companies have protocols to ensure that expenses are authorised by a third party, such as a manager. The need to have expenses approved can create a lengthy process.
Instead, organisations should consider relying on automation and back-end approvals to ensure efficient policy compliance without micromanaging employees.
“Companies that equip employees with plain language guidelines and a mobile app like Concur, letting them to make the right choice at a given moment, are more likely to reduce expenses and improve employee morale,” said Goss.
2) Time off and paid leave: Companies that let employees track their own work and vacation hours can significantly improve employee morale by again putting them in control.
Several companies have eliminated vacation time restrictions from their company culture altogether, leaving employees to decide what time off should look like for them.
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3) Business travel booking: Business travel and entertainment expenses are a significant cost for many businesses. This can result in employees needing to justify their choice of a specific room, hotel or aeroplane seat. Sometimes those decisions are private and affect the traveller’s physical and mental health, but the costs can add up.
Technology lets employees make the right decision for them without micromanaging the process. It lets companies set clear boundaries for employee bookings. When employees book below the restricted costs, many companies give their employees points or rewards for making smart decisions.
“Using technology to give more responsibility to your employees can change company culture for the better,” Goss said. “Employees feel valued, which ultimately increases productivity. At the same time, companies can still reduce the cost and potential waste associated with expenses.”