Lies, damned lies and expenses

One in three of us is a thieving, cheating scoundrel – but is it really our fault?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

More than a third of employees now reckon it’s perfectly acceptable to exaggerate expense forms, according to a survey conducted by YouGov for expense manager Global Expense (and that’s only the ones who are willing to admit to it). And we’re getting worse – six years ago, this figure was only 25%.

So what’s the scale of this larceny? Just over 40% of fraudsters said they bumped the figure up by a relatively modest 9%. Another 40% were willing to boost the bill by 25%, while an even less scrupulous 9% were willing to crank it up by 50% or more.

And it’s all down to the evil companies, apparently. Three quarters of these reprobates said it was ok to exaggerate expenses because their employer didn’t reimburse them for all their costs. About half said it was acceptable because they weren’t paid enough in the first place. And more than a third said it was their employer’s fault for making them pay in the first place, or for being too slow to reimburse them.

As Global Expense’s David Vine puts it: ‘Employees are clearly becoming far more cynical towards their employers and feel entitled to cheat on their expenses if they think the company isn’t paying them their dues’. In fact, such was the righteous indignation on show that a mere 8% admitted to doing it purely because they could.

So if you’re a business owner, what are you supposed to do about it? You certainly can’t rely on your other employees to help you out – only 11% said they would blow the whistle if they knew a colleague was fiddling expenses.

The key, according to Vine, is to make sure employees are very clear on the rules (which presumably means investing in some of his company’s invaluable expense management solutions, we suspect) – and thenn stamp down on people when they break them. The survey found that 76% of claimants have never once had an expenses claim queried, so it’s perhaps not surprising that people are starting to push their luck.

Of course, there is another option. Just go round your office and sack every third person. Problem solved.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime