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How do I get Employees to Comply with T&E Policies?

We have a T&E policy by under which employees are supposed to use company credit cards for expenses, but most, even executives, use cards to get airline miles, rewards, etc. The volume rewards to the company could be much more meaningful if people followed our policy. Any advice for how to inspire/demand compliance?


CV Sudarshan
Title: Manager
Company: Independent
(Manager, Independent) |

The area of T&E policies in general tends to be touchy. If the policies are draconian, employees feel that the company is 'taking something away from them'. On the other side, companies cannot afford to be lax either.

As a starting point, I would recommend finding the middle ground. For example, mandate the use of corporate card only for airfare while using personal cards for everything else. The tradeoff is keeping employees happy versus losing company-wide miles/rewards.

My experience - If your mobile workforce is on the road for weeks/months, swaying these decisions in their favor goes a long way towards greater productivity and morale, which in the long run is usually worth more.

I can share more anecdotal observations if interested.

Wray Rives
Company: Rives CPA PLLC

If the executives in the organization are not following the policy, you can't expect anyone else to follow it. It sounds like you have a policy in name only and unless the senior management decides to enforce the T&E policy, it will not happen. If the executives within the company really want to enforce usage of company credit cards all they have to do is stop reimbursing for expenses that are put on a personal credit card.

Robert Sheidler
Title: Consultant
Company: Self
LinkedIn Profile
(Consultant, Self) |

Wray is correct -- if the executives are not supporting it, there is little chance of success -- better to find some policy that they WILL support.

If you DO have top-level executive support, there you need to give an ultimatum -- if not done per policy, the employee does not get reimbursed -- or at least it gets kicked to another level of review and approval such that it both makes public to higher levels of management that the employee is not following policy, and results in a delay in getting paid.

If you do not have support for such measures, don't bother making those policies in the first place, as I find that policies that are not enforced are worse than none at all.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Let me see if I have this straight. The company provides a credit card for employee expenses. Employees don't want to use the credit card.

Are expenses pre-approved? Do credit cards have spending limits? Are they used for personal expenses?

I've found company credit cards to be painful at best. Let them use their own cards, have very clear and concise T&E policies (with allowance for pre-approval of large ticket or srtange ticket items) and when they exceed the policy, don't reimburse.

That is not only not draconian, but a fair application of what the company believes is proper T&E, but also teaches employees responsibility and accountability.

Shane Patrick Connolly
Title: Chief of Staff
Company: Council District 10, City of San Jose
(Chief of Staff, Council District 10, City of San Jose) |

Perhaps if you used a centralized reservation system you could capture the sales-by-vendor data you need for group-buy advantages without forcing people on to the Corporate card? There may be an alternative to capture the transaction data you need for those discounts on airfare and hotels, which are often the biggest costs associated with travel.

Beyond utilizing an alternative methodology for collecting the data you need, the other posters' points on enforcement of policy are on-point. I used the first couple of violations by an employee as an opportunity to educate them on the policy and to provide the context as to the "why" of the policy, after which I provided written notice that further violations would result in having their report returned to them, and, ultimately, for repeat offenders, non-reimbursement of expenses. One might suggest that the employee claim these on their itemized tax returns an such, since they obviously do not want to comply with the policy that allows for the company to reimburse them for their expenses!

Bob Low
Title: Principal
Company: Perron & Low
(Principal, Perron & Low) |

In general, I find corporate credit cards more trouble than they are worth in part because without the incentive of having to be reimbused, employees may not file expense reports on a timely basis. Plus allowing employees to keep bonus points is a small cost to compensate them for the strain of travel. I'd prefer building up goodwill to trying to capture every last dollar of savings.

As others have noted, using a centralized system for air and hotel reservations billable to a corporate account might be a middle ground. This can help ensure adherence to company travel policies, access to company negotiated discounts, consolidated reporting of travel spending, knowledge of where your employees are in case of an emergency, and, yes, capture of some of the travel rewards.

Topic Expert
Randy Miller
Title: Partner
Company: CFO Edge
(Partner, CFO Edge) |

I agree with Bob. My experiences with corporate cards have also been that they are more trouble than help. Not only is there the reporting factor, but some employees treat corporate cards a little cavalierly - there can be a tendency to go for the most expensive options because it is harder for the company to recover over limit charges (and managers tend to feel awkward asking an employee who has been traveling to reimburse the company for upgrades). Employees who want to be reimbursed tend to be a little more cautious and more detailed in their expense reports.

Add on the fact that employees consider the reward points as a little bit of compensation for the wear and tear of travel, and the lost company points are a small cost compared to the bad feelings that can be generated.

Lawrence Lewandowski
Title: CFO, Controller, Director
Company: in-between
(CFO, Controller, Director, in-between) |

Providing employees with company credit cards proved to be more challenging and problematic that originally anticipated.
Continued failure to provide expense details and reconciliation issues resulted in cancellation of the corporate program. We provided employees up to $50 annually to procure the card of their choice and keep whatever rewards were associated with the card. Amazingly, when their checking account was being affected, expense reports were being submitted within the month. Our position was that reimbursement would be made on all approved expenses within two weeks of submission. This proved to be a "win,win" for everyone.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I've done this as well and it had a better response, BUT you need IMHO to set up drop dead dates for how old a report can be that still will be reimbursed.

I have found that people will go 6 months before they submit, whether it had an impact on their checking accounts or not. But it is surprising when they don't get paid how that changes behavior.

Rules have to be simple, clear and concise. More importantly they must be applied evenly and across the board.

Ken Mason
Title: Controller
Company: Pascua Yaqui Tribe
LinkedIn Profile
(Controller, Pascua Yaqui Tribe) |

Company-sponsored T&E cards can indeed be a big problem. The same employees who had previously failed to submit timely expense reports and receipts, continued their behavior. Some of them also didn't pay their bills. The cards were issued in their names and the corporate parent was sold the program with the understanding that the company was liable. Wrong. The issuer came after us anyway and it turned into a giant hassle.

We were lucky. At another division one of its employees used the card to buy a car. Supposedly the SICs were limited but that slipped through. Oops.

Our procurement card program, OTOH, was an outstanding success. I had support from the top and complete technical control.

Robert Honeyman
Title: CFO
Company: Advanced Predictive Analytics
(CFO, Advanced Predictive Analytics) |

I've always found it near impossible to wean executives *off* of company cards. The accounting hassles, the paper chases, the reconciliations are all nightmares. If the only reason you're using a company card is for rewards, you may want to start arguing with the owners that, a) most American executives these days see the accumulation of points as a right, not even making a slight dent in the damage excessive travelling places on personal relationships; and b) the cost of the accounting department staying on top of such cards is far greater than the value of any points earned.

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

We had a lot of slippage in this area when I first took over the responsibility for T & E. We implemented an AMEX card solution which required the employee to apply for the card. The responsibility and credit score then became their own. Normal expense report submission within thirty days meant only the direct supervisor had to approve and reimbursement took place via direct deposit within two business days. Reports > 90 days routed first to the supervisor and then to me as treasurer. Reports > 180 days routed as above and then to the CFO, who would comment. In some cases, older reports were not paid. Even with over 4000 employees, word traveled and compliance was very good.


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