When Employee Expense Report Requests Go Bad

 
 
By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 04-11-2016 Email
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    When Employee Expense Report Requests Go Bad
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    When Employee Expense Report Requests Go Bad

    These outlandish—and sometimes funny—examples of expense report items actually submitted by workers shed light on what can be a serious problem for businesses.
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    Judgment Issues
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    Judgment Issues

    Nearly one-quarter of CFOs said they've seen inappropriate expense report requests increase over the past three years, compared to just 11% who said such requests are on the decline.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Auto Zone
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Auto Zone

    Some employees have attempted to expense personal vehicle payments or repairs—and one form was submitted to get reimbursed entirely for a new car.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: ‘Are You Entertained?’
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: ‘Are You Entertained?’

    Workers have tried to get comped for flat-screen TVs, and others have asked their company to pay for their dance classes.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Animal Kingdom
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Animal Kingdom

    CFOs have actually seen the following show up on reimbursement submissions: "doggie day spa" costs and taxidermy charges.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Financial Burden
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Financial Burden

    Some staffers have used reimbursement forms to attempt to get a loan approved, and some have used these forms to try to pay their rent.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Got a Beef?
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Got a Beef?

    One employee literally bought half a cow and asked his company to pay for it.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Double Dipping
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Double Dipping

    Another listed this as an expense item: A colleague's salary.
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Nominal Charge
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    Outrageous Expense Reports: Nominal Charge

    A worker actually submitted a form to get reimbursed for a parking meter charge—totaling ten cents.
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    Best Practices: Establish a Formal Policy
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    Best Practices: Establish a Formal Policy

    Until you specify what's acceptable and what's not in writing, some staffers will attempt to take advantage of the lack of guidelines.
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    Best Practices: Encourage Employees to Ask
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    Best Practices: Encourage Employees to Ask

    Cultivate an environment in which your employees feel free to ask about questionable items before filling out the form.
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    Best Practices: Apply the ‘Grandma’ Test
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    Best Practices: Apply the ‘Grandma’ Test

    Advise team members to ask this question before requesting compensation for anything that's a bit fishy: "Would you submit this report to your grandma?"
 

Could any task inspire more tedium than a marathon review of expense report submissions? You scroll and scroll—and scroll some more—with your eyes glazing over at the 25th request to get comped for a Big Mac value meal. Then, suddenly, something totally off-the-wall catches your attention—like an attempt to get reimbursed for a flat-screen TV. Or a new car. Or a side of beef. Yes, believe it or not, these are "real" expense report requests that "real" employees have made, according to a recent survey of CFOs from Robert Half Management Resources. Combined, the following "outrageous" filings clearly demonstrate that certain professionals feel that "the sky's the limit" in filling out these forms. They also speak to an overall increase in inappropriate expense report items in general (outrageous or not)—a trend that CIOs and other managers could help reverse by establishing clearly communicated policies, among other recommended best practices from Robert Half. "These outlandish and sometimes funny examples shed light on what can be a serious problem for businesses," said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "Inappropriate expense reports are costly—both to the company's bottom line and to the careers of the people who submit them." More than 2,200 CFOs took part in the research.

 
 
 
 
 
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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