Goodbye Leakage: Your Guide to Employee Spend Management
By prioritising employee spend management you’ll also put an end to leakage. But first, let’s cover the basics.
What is employee expense management?
Each time an employee sets off on a business trip there are expenses involved. The biggest obviously relate to flights and accommodation, but you also need to consider everything from food and drinks to miscellaneous expenses like tips, parking, laundry and Wi-Fi. It can add up. Quickly.
Employee spend management puts policies, guidelines and boundaries in place so you can control, track and reimburse employees for expenses incurred during a business trip.
Keep in mind though, that traditional travel and expense (T&E) policies were designed for a time when most employees worked in a central office location and had predictable travel needs.
Employees’ needs and expectations have changed thanks to remote working and blended travel, which means that if you haven’t updated your organisation’s T&E policy … now is the time.
How do you control employee spending?
The best place to start is with a clear, easy-to-follow travel policy. Everyone needs to know exactly where they stand when it comes to:
Whether your employees are booking flights, train trips, shuttles or car rentals, they need to know what’s what when it comes to authorised transportation – and what limits are in place for each. For example, are your execs allowed to fly business class? Or do you have a company-wide mandate on economy class? And don’t forget e-hailing services … are we talking UberX or UberBlack?
The easiest way to cap accommodation spend is to have a pre-approved selection of hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs available through a user-friendly booking or travel management platform. The pool can be as wide (thousands of options) or narrow as you like. If employees are not required to book through a preferred travel management platform make sure they know the maximum rate per night.
Corporate Credit Card Expenses
Business expenses are often charged to a company credit card, and again there’ll need to be strict ground rules in place. Your expense policy should outline what types of expenses are allowed to be charged to the card (like airfare, hotel rooms, and meals), who can use one, and what limits are in place.
Meals and Per Diems
When considering the different types of employee expenses, don’t overlook meals and incidentals. Per diems are also referred to as a ‘subsistence allowance’ and they should cover meals, drinks, an entertainment allowance, and miscellaneous costs like parking, Wi-Fi and laundry. It’s a good idea to rope in your travel management company (TMC) when it comes to setting realistic per diems as they’ll know the going rates for different countries, cities, and destinations (important when you’re travelling on the rand!).
In the UAE, the remote work landscape may vary from other regions, but there's an increasing awareness of the benefits of leisure travel. While remote work policies may not have fully integrated this idea, employees are showing a growing interest in merging business trips with leisure experiences. This developing trend highlights the importance of organisations incorporating blended travel options into their policies, including clear guidelines on responsibilities for insurance, visas, and expenses related to the leisure aspects of a trip.
5 Steps to smoother spend management
Can you believe that when it comes to corporate travel, a third of all travel managers struggle with compliance? Or that a similar number believe that manual processes have a negative impact on employee productivity? And that only 8% of finance teams have access to digitised expense reports – with another 59% of decision makers admitting that they audit less that half of all travel expenses. This according to a survey commissioned by Amadeus Cytric Solutions. Seems crazy, doesn’t it?
Especially when there are steps you can take to manage employee compliance and track business expenses:
1. Use a travel management platform to connect the dots
Take it from us, this is the best investment you’ll ever make. A travel management platform will give you the edge when it comes to managing, tracking and reconciling expenses. It’s time to embrace automation and centralised expense management. For example, FCM’s all-in-one platform will eliminate leakage by:
- Putting a range of on-policy flight, accommodation and ground transport options at your fingertips.
- Green-flagging approved options – and alerting travellers when they have strayed off policy.
- Offering seamless integration with third-party expense management systems, including SAP Concur Expense and Cytric by Amadeus.
- Making it easy to capture and track expense data.
- Managing unused tickets and vouchers.
- Displaying all your data on handy dashboards – and making it easy to compare monthly data sets to identify both potential savings and unnecessary leakage.
- Delivering comprehensive, up-to-the-minute reports whenever you need them.
2. Build relationships with travel suppliers
Again, this is where TMCs are worth their weight in gold. They’ll use their long-established relationships and impressive buying power to secure the best rates and fares on your behalf. Not only that, but they can also negotiate waivers and favours, which means you’ll get off easy when it comes to change or cancellation fees!
3. Work with your team
Employees are more likely to comply with a new policy or system if they have been part of the process! Sit down with key members of your team before creating your T&E policy, ideally with your travellers, finance, procurement and even HR.
Once you have a policy in place, communicate it clearly to your employees ensuring they understand the importance of the new regulations – and why employee spend management matters to the success of your business. FCM can help with training and change management; will ensure your policy is loaded onto the FCM platform and easily accessible to all; and set up dashboards and expense reports so you can monitor and track your spend.
4. Prioritise the reimbursement of claims
Post-trip admin can be a nightmare for travellers – and delays in reimbursement a real dent to morale. If you’ve got the right tech in place, reimbursement of claims should be a breeze. If it’s not, chat to your TMC about the steps you can take to simplify recons and reimbursements (hint: you’ll want to say goodbye to manual processes for good).
Not only will it make your employees happier, but it will give you increased visibility over your spend and help you identify out-of-policy (and yes, even fraudulent) claims.
5. Commit to one partner
Let’s talk consolidation. By consolidating all your travel bookings with just one travel provider or TMC, you’ll receive just one invoice per month. This means you’ll easily see your true travel spend, without having to wait for different invoices or deal with any nasty surprises.
Even better? With greater booking volumes coming their way, your chosen TMC will be able to negotiate better supplier deals for you too. It’s a win win in anyone’s language.