While some of your business travellers may not follow your corporate policy on purpose because they believe they are entitled to greater budgets or more expensive travel, the vast majority of your workers truly wish to follow your corporate travel policy. However, there are many reasons why this is sometimes more difficult than it should be.
The first step to increasing compliance with your company’s travel policy is understanding why your employees are not complying. Talk to your employees and ask them for detailed feedback to understand where the shoe pinches.
Once you understand the reason (or reasons) why your current travel and expense corporate policy is not working, it will be easier to devise effective strategies to increase compliance with your travel policy. We identified 7 common reasons why corporate policy compliance rates are low.
- Employees do not know there’s a corporate policy
- The corporate policy is ambiguous or difficult to understand
- Corporate policy does not align with your company culture
- Corporate policy does not align with your business goals
- Corporate policy is outdated
- The policy is too rigid
- Employees are breaching corporate policy on purpose
Employees do not know there’s a corporate policy in place
If your employees do not know you have a corporate policy, you cannot expect them to comply with it. While this may seem like an obvious reason, it is the root cause of many low compliance rates.
Attaching a document to an email and sending it to the entire company is not good enough to ensure compliance. Most of your employees are busy people that could probably not be bothered by your corporate travel policy. It is unlikely they will even open the document attached to your email.
The corporate policy is ambiguous or difficult to understand
While a 20+ page document might seem easy to understand to the person who wrote it, this might not be the case for time-pressed or stressed employees. Make sure your corporate policy is concise, to the point, easy to understand and apply, and employees can quickly find the information they are looking for.
Also, make sure to state very clearly whether your policy consists of flexible guidelines or rather strict rules that should always be followed. Finally, make sure to outline the steps your business travellers should take in case of unplanned scenarios. What should they do in case a flight gets cancelled?
Corporate policy does not align with your company culture
Many companies have travel policies that do not necessarily align with their company culture or other corporate policies. This will create unnecessary confusion or frustration with your business travellers.
If your company propagates leadership and decision-making by empowering employees, then using strict rules in your corporate travel policy rather than flexible guidelines and requiring approval for small expenses might seem odd and annoy your employees.
Or if your company propagates flat hierarchy and collaborative leadership, then employees might be unhappy to learn that senior executives get to fly first class while the rest is flying coach. However, employees might be happy to share rooms while on the road when they know that even their CEO does it.
Corporate policy does not align with your business goals
Sometimes, T&E expense policies do not match a company’s business objectives. Is the top goal optimising the time of your employees at the destination? Making their life as easy as possible so they will perform at their best? Or spending as little money as possible?
Getting a clear understanding of the goals your organisation wants to achieve by sending your employees on a trip will make it easier for your employees to actually achieve those goals and will alleviate some of the confusion and frustration that comes from a travel and expense policy that does not support your business objectives.
Corporate policy is outdated
When was the last time you updated your travel corporate policy? While your policy might not have changed, your employees and the way they travel and make expenses certainly have. Digital receipts, mobile applications, Uber, and Airbnb among others have transformed the way employees travel in their private life.
Moreover, with millennials entering the workplace, your workforce and expectations have also changed. However, many organisations have not updated their corporate T&E policies yet to allow for these kinds of changes, creating confusion and frustration among employees. Up-to-date T&E policies align with the lifestyle of their employees and take into account the ‘bleisure’ trend and the consumerization of business travel.
The policy is too rigid
Your organisation probably consists of different types of employees that travel for different reasons to a multitude of destinations. Your corporate travel policy should reflect this diversity.
A junior sales rep travelling to a cheap destination for a tradeshow will have different needs and expenses than a senior executive that takes potential new clients out for dinner and drinks in New York. Moreover, business travel is dynamic, and your corporate travel policy should reflect this. Maybe one of your employees booked a room that is $35 more expensive per night but is within walking distance of the clients they’ll be meeting, while the cheaper hotel is a $20 taxi ride away.
Tarring all business trips over one brush or making the rules too rigid will undoubtedly lower your compliance rates as certain expenses that make sense for your business might violate your travel and expense policy.
Employees are breaching corporate policy on purpose
Even though this constitutes a minority, some employees knowingly submit expenses that exceed the limits set in their company’s policy, book hotels that are not on the list of preferred vendors, book airfares without using the company’s chosen travel management company, or ignore approval procedures.
This could be because they do not agree with the corporate travel policy, approval procedures, or choice of the travel management company, or because they feel entitled to a higher travel budget. Either way, this subject should be discussed in order to find the best way to proceed, moving forward.