Setting clear guidelines is important in every aspect of business, particularly with your most valued audience – your employees. Managing business expense and travel is no exception. And, with an average of 10% of a company's business budget devoted to employee expense and business travel, this isn't a cost area you can afford to overlook.
A formal travel expense policy provides employees with knowledge of what they can and cannot submit as reimbursable, while providing management with critical real-time visibility into budgets. Having this protocol in writing will cut down on reimbursable expense report fraud, which is often unintentional, but can have big consequences. Oversight found that 37% of business travelers had at least one exception on their expense reports, and the typical company loses at least 5% of its annual revenue to fraud.
Where do you start?
Creating an employee expense reimbursement policy from scratch can be overwhelming but an expense policy template can help get you started. You can use our expense policy builder to create your own customizable expense policy template in just a few clicks.
Consider the following when you start working on (or revising) your policy.
1. Ditch the jargon: Write the policy to cover the basics, but don’t be afraid to revise it later. Make sure it’s easy to read and not bogged down by jargon. The easier a policy is to understand, the easier it is for your employees to follow on their next business trip.
2. Keep it fair and sensible: Write your policy to guide behavior, but be flexible enough to adapt to local and international travel requirements— such as higher air travel fares in more remote locations and hotel room costs in more expensive cities.
3. Invite participation: Before you implement your expense policy, ask team members to participate in the new expense reporting process. For example, if they help develop the policy they’ll see why it’s necessary and will be more likely to adhere to the rules, encouraging others to do the same.
4. Make it easy to find and easy to use: Your expense policy won’t be followed unless people know about it. Make sure yours is visible and easy for company employees to find.
Emphasize the positives of a revised expense policy and lead by example
Hold a training session for employees, accounting and human resources teams to explain your expense policy’s benefits and purpose. Familiarizing managers who approve expenses with the content, the importance of compliance, and the reasons for implementing the policy can help them confidently enforce the rules.
Consider helpful software tools and leverage existing technology
An automated solution that automatically populates charges from suppliers, credit card companies, common expense categories and receipts such as business meal expenses, car rentals, dry cleaning, hotel rooms and airfare will save time and allow you to focus on your core business purpose. Choose an expense management solution that works with mobile devices and allows for the submission and approval of employee expenses via photographed receipts no matter where you or your employees are.