Does A Bear Rug Belong On An Expense Report?

A new survey of CFOs reveals that inappropriate reimbursement submissions are on the rise. Here are some of the most outrageous ones.

Finance departments continually develop rigorous expense reporting guidelines, but that hasn’t stemmed the flow of eyebrow-raising requests by some employees, according to a new survey. The Robert Half Management Resources survey found that 56% of CFOs experienced an increase in the number of inappropriate expense report submissions over the last three years. Some of the more egregious infractions included a cow, Super Bowl tickets, and invoices for another company.

The survey asked CFOs, “Have you seen inappropriate expense report requests increase or decrease in the past three years?” Here are their responses:

  • Significantly increased: 27%
  • Somewhat increased: 29%
  • No change: 29%
  • Somewhat decreased: 11%
  • Significantly decreased: 4%

For some additional examples of audacious expense report requests surveyed CFOs shared, take a look at the infographic below:

expense report

“Some of the more absurd expense report submissions may seem laughable, but they can be an expensive problem for businesses,” said Tim Hird, an executive vice president with Robert Half. “Companies must have effective review systems, policies and processes in place, or they risk losses in profits and employee productivity.”

Using Tech For Expense Reports

Additional research also found most companies use technology-based solutions in their expense-reporting process: 44% use internally developed software and 41% employ third-party systems. Overall, only 14% of organizations use manual processes, though this jumps to 31% for firms with 20 to 49 employees.

Hird added that implementing new technology can help streamline the expense-reporting process, but communication to staff is essential. “Do everything possible to make sure there is no ambiguity among employees about what constitutes a valid business expense. Regularly share your policies and include examples of past tricky situations to clarify gray areas.”

Robert Half Management Resources offers managers three ways to address and reduce inappropriate expense report submissions:

  • Overcommunicate guidelines. Make company policy easily accessible and provide regular reminders through the employee newsletter, company intranet or staff email.
  • Discuss expense report issues with employees. Improper submissions may be the result of staff members’ lapse in judgment or attempt to push boundaries. Whatever the reason, follow up with employees so that mistakes can be avoided in the future.
  • Review new requests carefully. Keep an eye on future submissions when a significant problem has occurred. If you spot a red flag, address it immediately and reinforce company policies.