What would you do if your employee submitted an expense reimbursement for cosmetic surgery?

According to a recent Robert Half survey, over the past three years, about 23% of executives have noticed an increase in the number of improper expense report requests.

Only a small handful (11%) have reported a drop in inappropriate requests over the past few years while 65% reported that there was no change over the same time period.

Here are some of the most unusual items submitted for expense reimbursement:

Cosmetic surgery
Lottery tickets
Spa day
A side of beef – somebody bought half of a cow
Flowers for a spouse
Taxidermy
10-cent parking-meter charge
Toilet paper
Somebody else’s salary
Flat-screen TV
Home remodel
Driving lessons
Vacations
Doggie day spa
A welder
Speeding tickets
A pair of socks
Video game console
Cigars
Hair supplies

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“These outlandish and sometimes funny examples shed light on what can be a serious problem for businesses. Inappropriate expense reports are costly – both to the company’s bottom line and to the careers of the people who submit them,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.

Hird added organisations should make the expense reporting process as simple as possible. “Ensure your policies are clearly communicated and accessible to all employees,” he said.

“Take a big-picture view of the program. Is it spelled out completely? Are you using the latest tools available? Removing ambiguity can help reduce the number of problematic requests.”

The report suggested that employees should be given this list of guiding questions before submitting their expense reports to reduce the number of weird requests.

Is this within the company policy?
Employees should be advised to review the organisation’s guidelines before preparing their expense reports and check with their manager or HR representative on anything they are unsure of.

Could there be any confusion?
Staff should be encouraged to clear any request that could be interpreted as a personal expense with their manager beforehand. For example, the baseball tickets they bought to entertain a client could be mistaken for a personal expense.

Would Grandma approve?
Advise employees to think about what their family might say about the item, if they would be embarrassed to talk to a parent or grandparent about something, they should not try to expense it.

Image: Shutterstock

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