Business Travel Show, LONDON – February 24th 2015 – Poll of 1235 UK employees suggests businesses are losing productivity to outdated expense claim bureaucracy. And one in five of us are “on the fiddle!”
Most UK employees still don’t have access to an online expense management tool – and the outdated alternatives they are using are forcing down company productivity. Those are among the key findings of a survey conducted by KDS, a European Travel and Expense (T&E) Management solutions provider.
Results from the survey of 1,235 UK-based white-collar workers also show that around one in five employees fiddle their expenses.
The survey reveals that only 42 per cent of respondents submit their claims through an automated expense management tool. A higher proportion, 48 per cent, enter their expenses into an offline spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel, while 4 per cent still use handwritten forms. Another 4 per cent of respondents say their company outsources expense management and 2 per cent say they either incur no expenses or never claim on them.
With the survey suggesting 88 per cent of employees complete their expenses during company time, inefficient claims processes clearly cost their employers time and money. Further analysis of companies with more than 500 employees shows the expense process is faster for those who use automated expense management tools. Among this group, 63 per cent take less than 30 minutes to file claims and 34 per cent receive reimbursement within seven days. In comparison, only 51 per cent using spreadsheets file claims in less than 30 minutes and only 17 per cent are reimbursed within seven days.
Surprisingly, 26 per cent of employees at companies with a 10,000-plus workforce still use spreadsheets for expenses, and that figure rockets to 66 per cent at companies with a workforce of 101-500.
“Online expense management tools have been making businesses more efficient for the best part of two decades, yet it would appear that most employers still expect employees to fill in old-fashioned spreadsheets or even write out their claims with a pen,” says KDS CEO Dean Forbes. “The results show that users of automated expense management tools divert less of their work time to getting their expenses done and also get their money back faster.”
Asked to comment on their experiences of expense reclamation, a substantial number say they don’t mind it or consider it a “necessary evil”. However, many are considerably less satisfied, with the words “pain” and “painful” being used repeatedly. Other comments include: “complex, slow, repetitive and very bureaucratic” and “a protracted, illogical process.”
“Employers that switch from manual claims processing to the use of automated tools benefit through reduced errors, better fiscal compliance, improved VAT reclaims and a fast approval workflow system for line managers,” says Forbes.
On the fiddle: a minority of UK employees massage their expenses
The survey reveals that just over one in five employees exaggerate their expenses, though usually by modest amounts. When claiming for private car mileage, 21 per cent round up the distance by one or two miles, while another 3 per cent round up to the nearest five or ten miles. However, 71 per cent record the accurate mileage and 5 per cent even say they round down.
Respondents were also asked how they treat blank receipts given to them by taxi drivers. A sizeable majority (78 per cent) say they claim the right amount, while 16 per cent add a small amount, 5 per cent add a couple of pounds and 1 per cent double the amount or more.
The survey was carried out online through SurveyMonkey from 11 to 19 February. There were 1,235 responses. All respondents were full-time employees aged 18-65 with household incomes of £35,000-plus.
KDS (www.kds.com) is a global provider of door-to-door Travel & Expense (T&E) management systems. The cloud based technology addresses all T&E requirements, from policy enforcement, and online travel booking, to automated expense processing and invoice reconciliation. With each stage handled efficiently, clients achieve significant cost-savings. KDS offers extensive connectivity to financial service and travel providers (airline, car, rail and hotel), ensuring optimized availability and pricing. KDS creates software that users love, believing that user experience is key to maximizing return on investment and increasing companies control on T&E spend. Twitter: @KDS_Innovates
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Derek Harris (For KDS)
+44 (0) 1395 516613