The Hidden Cost of The Expenses Economy

Expend Team

18 January 2021

Expend was born out of the frustration and time it takes to do expenses, and back then the goal was to make company expenses easy. 

So we decided it was about time we went beyond the trends we were finding and do some wider research into the true state of ‘The Expenses Economy’ in the UK. The focus of this research was mainly on employees that had to file their expenses and the variety of problems that they face day to day. 

Why? Because expenses can be a prickly subject and one that employees will often complain about to their co-workers, but rarely to their management.

Often employees don’t have access to the right tools, training or time. When employees are given the ‘choice’ between hitting a tight deadline, trying to reach sales targets or filing their out-of-pocket expenses, it's likely that many will push the latter back. Leaving them out of pocket for longer, putting pressure on their own finances and often those of their friends and family. It also leaves businesses unaware of their expense-related financial obligations.

39% of respondents have had to wait over two weeks for reimbursement, with 21% waiting at least a month.

Hats off to the 3.2% that get reimbursed the same day, you're in a very exclusive club. 

On the other side of the coin, the Financial Times quoted: “Many companies have wised up to general expenses abuse. They ask that you use your own personal card and claim it back later according to a set of guidelines so complex it makes Brexit negotiations look like child’s play. And guess what — these rules seldom apply to the boss. According to a recent survey by Expend, nearly one-third of UK employees have had to ask family or friends for cash because their expenses had to be put on a personal card, with one in five having to wait over a month to be repaid.” Financial Times

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So with over 51% of employees having to use their personal credit card or overdraft to pay for company expenses, the potential for overdraft fees and interest eating into their take home pay is a real and chilling possibility, especially for those that are struggling to save for a deposit for their own home.

As Johnny Vowles, our expenses admin busting CEO and co-founder, said in Global Banking and Finance Review:

“This research had some frankly shocking findings highlighting the scale of the expenses charade in the UK. It’s simply unacceptable that workers have to borrow money from family and friends or go into their credit cards or overdrafts to float their company’s expenses. We certainly don’t think businesses do it intentionally as a cash flow solution, but the problem does exist.

Expenses don't just impact employees' bank balances.

Nearly 1 in 5 employees (19%) would feel more satisfied and motivated if expenses did not come out of their pocket.

We live in a world where management seemingly wants everything done by the end of the month, whether it be create reports, finalise projects, close sales, do routine admin etc. These artificially created deadlines develop into pinch points for employees and frustration for those who have to administer them. Pinch points create rushes to complete and with rushes come errors, which ultimately takes even more time to get right.

Sadly many employees and companies don't have the right tools to do this efficiently or only solve part of the problem. 

Technology like Expend’s class-leading expenses solution is already taking the pain out of expenses management or employees and businesses across the UK. If you're not one of them, you should give it a try.

Expend Team

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