Filling out an expense report can be anxiety-inducing. That dinner with a client was legit, right? Those drinks were work-related, weren’t they? What if they get rejected and you end up eating the cost of four scotches, two of which you didn’t drink, two of which you drank only to impress a potential client?
Certain employees don’t have this problem. They’ll expense anything, purchased anywhere, anytime. Whether it’s glamorous trips, to personal services inside their home, animals, or over-the-top home decor, their first line of thought when it comes to paying seems to be “expense it.”
Consulting firm Robert Half asked 1,000 CFOs if they had seen an increase or a decrease in inappropriate expense report requests in the past three years. The CFOs response? They’d noticed a 56% increase. (Specifically, a 27% “significant increase” and a 29% “somewhat increase.”)
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Here are some of the most audacious expense-report capers
- Trip to Italy
- a cow
- Super Bowl tickets
- pogo stock
- bear rug
Pedestrian, but bizarre
- invoices for another company
- bedbug removal
Then there’s the employee who sees the expense report as an extension of their home finances
- children’s clothing
- cat litter
Finally, there’s the simply unbelievable
- Chicken statue with top hat
“Some of the more absurd expense report submissions may seem laughable, but they can be an expensive problem for businesses,” said Tim Hird, an executive vice president with Robert Half. “Companies must have effective review systems, policies, and processes in place.”
Robert Half found that only 14% of companies use manual processes to go through expense reports; although this number rises with firms with under 49 employees. Whatever method you use, Robert Half suggests “overcommunication is key” when communicating with employees about what is a proper business expense (although it should be noted that no amount of communication will ever make it clear to the person who expensed a chandelier that their action was inappropriate).