Written on March 6, 2013 at 12:00 am, by Gina Balarin
Previously, we published a blog about the link between cultural behavioural change, people, policy and compliance. It was so popular that we turned it into a white paper, which you can also download. It explained how, even though it’s really important for businesses to have a travel and expense policy, there is often a difference between whether people are complying with the policy, or with the prevalent organisational culture. Here is a view behind the scenes on why we wrote the blog, and the white paper in the first place.
The right balance between people, policy and compliance
It’s no secret that people are more productive if they work in an environment with a positive culture: it allows them to be happy and self-fulfilled at work, and everyone (employees and companies) benefit as a result. But when it comes to expenses, it can sometimes get emotional, especially when people have to comply with policies they perceive as unfair. The secret to encouraging appropriate behavioural change when claiming expenses, and keeping people happy at the same time, lies in finding the right balance between people, policy and compliance.
Travelling and incurring expenses can be fun
Here are the basics: sometimes people have to travel for work. Travelling for business can be fun, an opportunity to see and do new things and meet new people. Likewise, being able to claim expenses can be a benefit – client lunches are not only beneficial for fostering relationships, they can also be a fun chance to try a new restaurant and have a good chat.
But not everyone thinks so
Often, there’s a divide between those who claim expenses and those who mandate the policy about what is allowed to be claimed. When the policy says one thing and people do something different, the disconnect causes problems.
So what should businesses do?
The answer lies in taking a dual approach. First, understand the existing company culture and enable behavioural change by encouraging the right kind of behaviour. This starts with honest, open communication about the company policy. Clarity can help promote better working, and ultimately happier working environments: when people understand what the business expects, and when that meets their own expectations, the result is a more harmonious workplace culture.
Second, use technology to understand whether people are complying with the policy and make it easier for people to submit appropriate expenses i.e. ones that match with both company culture and policy. Automation can make employees’ lives easier – it takes the pain out of repetitive tasks (like completing expenses on a spreadsheet) and can make processes more efficient (so employees who submit work expenses can be paid back more quickly). Technology also takes away the emotion, as employees no longer feel it’s their manager telling them their expenses are out-of-policy, it’s an unbiased system.
Lastly, make the policy apply to everyone equally. It’s not fair if managers or certain individuals get away with making out-of-policy claims.
Success will follow
If people are educated, informed and encouraged to comply with a sensible and appropriate policy, and a consistent approach is applied across the business making the best use of available expense management technology software, positive behaviour and compliance with your T&E policy is likely to follow.
Want to know more about behavioural change in action?
Attend the webinar entitled ‘Carrot or stick? Developing an ethical workforce – behaviour change in action’ or download the white paper about ‘Cultural change: software, policy, people and compliance’.