With social isolation being the only way to combat the spread of the virus, working from home has emerged as the new normal. This shift offers organizations a chance to design expense programs that have more scope than travel and expense. Such a system helps shape the comprehensive, all-inclusive company culture moving forward.
Maintaining relevance in the pandemic requires a well-documented corporate expense policy. The revised policy needs to provide clarity on what employees can and cannot claim reimbursement.
Traditionally, expense programs included a majority of “travel and entertainment” programs. However, it was not all-inclusive. In today’s context, it is essential to move beyond how the company can save as much money as possible.
A corporate expense policy effectively communicates how employers value their employees’ time and happiness. Creating a new expense policy requires keeping in mind the current situation and future plans of the company.
Due to the pandemic, travel and face-to-face meetings have steeply decreased. However, these categories have given way to others, such as ‘Broadband reimbursement,’ ‘Home-Office equipment’ that supports employees working from home.
This change in categories is part of the New Normal.
Companies today are spending more to make working from home more comfortable for their employees by reimbursing the setup cost. Communication expense is highly recurrent, with commodities like headsets reimbursed the most often.
Another effect of working from home amidst a global pandemic has been the importance and attention given to mental health. Companies have begun health subscriptions for all employees. Health check-ups have become a ubiquitous spend category in with health checkups a frequently reimbursed expense.
The scope of expense policy enforcement
Organizational expense policies range from very strict to very lax. The former will require managerial approval for every expense report’s reimbursement, no matter how significant or trivial the amount. However, sloppy or unclear expense policies will result in destructive behavior.
A great example of a well-written expense policy that operates within a high trust working environment is Netflix. Their company expense policy is only five words, “Act in Netflix’s best interests.” The organization expects employees to spend company money thoughtfully as though it were their own. Studies show Netflix saved money by this policy, with employees being cautious with their business spends.
However, based on how an organization is run, there are several instances of employees being very extravagant with company money.
Design an expense policy specific to the company
A well-thought-out and meticulously designed expense policy will serve to reinforce company values and commitment to employees. Further, this will provide companies a competitive advantage.
Based on the current situation, it is entirely possible that what is relevant today might not be relevant in the next quarter. To gauge how to draft the policy and what to include, looking at relevant data is the only way forward. Actionable insights to inform strategies and policies are only possible from real-time data. Additionally, expense policies are crucial for attracting and retaining talent.
Some well-known organizations offer 100% tuition coverage for their employees. This comes with a promise to reimburse any out-of-pocket tuition at the end of the semester. Some large companies provide education reimbursement, donation matching, student loan repayments, house cleaning, and personal trainers.
Other companies offer several perks starting from tuition assistance to counseling and legal advice. One of the best ways to reinforce company values is by rewarding good behavior. Some companies do this by rewarding employees for spending money wisely. For example, selecting the lowest airfare cost will ensure a reward. This could be a free upgrade on a future flight.
Employee perks in the “new normal”
Within the dynamics and the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, employee morale is of the utmost importance. Tech giants like Google have announced that it will allow employees to work from home through June 2021. Other companies such as Twitter and Square have given employees the option of permanently working from home if they choose to.
With working from home as the central theme for the foreseeable future, companies have been forced to reimagine how they work and their employee perks. The pandemic has turned routine topsy-turvy and there is no coming back. A lot of company policies are irrelevant now that employees are working from home.
As a company, how to design a policy that is resilient to the changing landscape?
Boosting morale and building rapport between teams with happy hours and catered lunches need to be reimagined. Some companies offer food delivery to their employees via delivery services to replace the office’s catered meals.
Some companies are offering stipends to each employee to use at their discretion.
Working full-time and caring for children running parallelly, several companies offer childcare reimbursement to employees with children. Others are offering several extra weeks of paid vacation for employees with children, as a testament to the struggle of working while caring for children.
A common perk being offered in the pandemic is reimbursement for employees to build their home-office. This usually includes expensing keyboards, monitors, desks, chairs, and office equipment.
A vital consideration today is tracking these new types of expenses. With automated expense management, companies have end-to-end visibility into employee spending patterns.
An expense management software like Zaggle Save can now provide near real-time and up-to-date information on T&E trends. This will help in making informed, accurate, and timely decisions on strategy and update the policy.
Setting clear rules around expenses is significant for promoting sound company culture. What can and cannot be reimbursed are highly reflective of company culture. It is essential to create an atmosphere of trust, transparency, accountability, and competence around expense reporting.
This goes a long way in creating and maintaining a similar atmosphere throughout the organization. Zaggle Save is here to help you maintain relevance in an ever-changing digital landscape. Our all-in-one business spends management platform helps you spend smarter while saving time, money, and effort.
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