A third of Britons now think it is acceptable to exaggerate their work expenses compared with a quarter six years ago. That’s a staggering increase of 36 per cent says research conducted by YouGov on behalf of, Europe’s largest end-to-end expense management provider, GlobalExpense
“Employees are clearly becoming far more cynical towards their employers and feel entitled to cheat on their expenses if they think the company isn’t paying them their dues” said GlobalExpense Managing Director, David Vine. “Businesses need to act quickly to stop this rot before it becomes an ingrained culture, not least because the sums can add up to millions of pounds lost to fraud.”
The survey found that 41 per cent of the people who believe it is acceptable to exaggerate expense claims see nothing wrong with adding up to nine per cent on to an expense claim’s value. An additional 41 per cent think it’s acceptable to inflate expense claims by between 10-25 per cent. A further six per cent believe that it can be acceptable to increase expense claims by as much as 50 per cent and three per cent think it is OK to inflate expense claims by more than 50 per cent.
People who believe it is acceptable for employees to exaggerate their expense claims gave the following reasons:
76 per cent agreed that it is acceptable to exaggerate expense claims when the employer doesn’t reimburse all the costs incurred by the employee;
53 per cent believe that it is acceptable for employees to exaggerate their expenses if they are not paid a fair salary;
41 per cent believe it is acceptable to exaggerate expense claims if an employer is slow at reimbursing expenses, and
34 per cent believe it is acceptable for an employee to exaggerate expense claims if an employee feels he or she shouldn’t have had to pay out of their own pocket in the first place.
16 per cent think it is acceptable for an employee to exaggerate his or her expenses if they are following a bad example set by senior management of wining and dining on the company. Since 41 per cent of working adults say their boss probably or definitely exaggerates his or her expenses, it is fortunate that more employees don’t follow their lead.
Only eight per cent think that exaggerating expense claims is acceptable when an employee can get away with it, which is good news for employers considering that 76 per cent of employees who claim expenses have never had an expense claim queried or rejected.
“The pattern that emerges from the survey results is one of grievance and retribution. Unhappy employees feel justified in making exaggerated expense claims in order to ‘get back’ what they perceive the company owes them. It’s a worrying premise and one which is becoming more and more acceptable,” explains Vine.
Only 11 per cent of British adults would definitely tell a boss, or somebody else in management, if a colleague was exaggerating their expenses. A further 18 per cent would only tell if a colleague exaggerated their expenses frequently, and 19 per cent would tell if a colleague exaggerated their expenses by large amounts.
But 36 per cent would probably not inform management about a colleague and 7 per cent would never do so.
“Since employees won’t blow the whistle on their colleagues and only six per cent of employees who claim, or have claimed expenses, say their boss sometimes queries or rejects their claims, businesses and organisations are unlikely to find out if this is happening to them unless they make some changes,” concluded Vine.