Wild and unauthorized employee spending is costing businesses tens of thousands of dollars a year, new research shows.
More than 60 percent of employees estimate that "maverick spending" is costing employers as much as $25,000 a year, a study by cloud-based finance solutions Coupa Software discovered. Many employees say it's much more, with 15 percent estimating the cost in excess of $100,000.
In addition, more than half of the employees surveyed have made purchases without the advance approval of their manager, while an additional two-thirds have made risky purchases, such as an overly expensive dinner that they charged to the company, or buying office supplies for their home use. Other examples of dicey employee expenses include upgrading to a higher level of airline service and buying smartphones, exercise equipment and personal clothing items.
"The results of the survey indicate a spending culture in America's corporations that has, in many ways, gotten out of control," said Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa Software.
It's not just risky and unapproved expenses that are costing companies. The research showed that one-third of employees have stolen from their employer in a number of devious ways, including:
- Inflating the cost of a taxi ride on a blank taxi receipt.
- Expensing personal items and pretending they were for business.
- Accepting a refund for an already expensed item without reporting it.
- Increasing the amount of tip they claimed to have given a server.
- Expensing the same item more than once.
- Creating a fake expense that never happened.
The study found employees feel there are a variety of ways for their employer to keep a more watchful eye on their spending, including by having better oversight of expense reporting, maintaining guidelines for travel reimbursement and auditing expense reports randomly. A number of employees also feel companies would be best served by curbing the use of company credit cards, prosecuting those who do steal from the company and questioning expenditures often.
The study was based on surveys of 500 U.S. office workers.