June 30, 2015

Survey Finds Three out of Five Business Travelers Had Problems Paying a Personal Bill due to Expense Reimbursement Delays by Employers

-TriNet survey finds bad expense reporting processes make 73 percent of business travelers “feel like a bank” for their companies-

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. – June 30, 2015 – A new survey released today by TriNet (NYSE: TNET) shows business expense reporting can be more than just an irritating time drain—it can hurt employees’ personal finances, reduce professional opportunities and even make employees more likely to look for a new job.

The TriNet Expense study - which was conducted by Wakefield Research throughout May and June 2015 - surveyed 1,000 U.S. business travelers ages 23 and over. Results showed that companies’ expense reporting processes have caused business travelers to:

  • Burden their personal finances: Three out of five (60 percent) have had problems paying a personal bill because they were waiting for an expense reimbursement from their employer. In addition:
    • The largest business expense employees shouldered themselves before reimbursement averaged $2,604 - nearly triple the median U.S. monthly housing cost of $966.[1]
    • The longest wait time averages five weeks - exceeding the standard credit card billing cycle of 30 days.[2]
  • Sacrifice professional opportunities: More than half (53 percent) have not participated in one or more professional development opportunities - such as a training or a conference - because their employers’ expense reimbursement process made it difficult for them to attend.
  • Look for a new job: More than seven out of 10 (71 percent) would likely look for another job if their employer were constantly late in reimbursing their business expenses.

The survey also found that subpar expense reporting procedures are surprisingly costly for employee morale, millennial workers and company reputation.

Employees would rather do taxes than expense reports

Expense reporting can be so odious and complex that business travelers would take extreme measures to avoid the process altogether. Specifically, they would rather:

  • Pay for expenses themselves: More than half (53 percent) admit to not submitting a business expense for reimbursement to avoid completing an expense report.
  • Commute an extra hour to work: 43 percent would rather spend an extra hour commuting to work in the morning than spend an hour filling out expense reports.
  • Do their taxes: More than half (53 percent) would rather complete their taxes than “fill out hours of expense reports.”

Millennial workers hurt the most

From missing out on training opportunities to struggling to pay bills, the survey showed that millennials struggled even more than their older colleagues. For example, millennials are:

  • 21 percent more likely than gen Xers or baby boomers to have difficulty paying a personal bill because they were waiting to be reimbursed for business expenses.
  • 24 percent more likely than gen Xers or baby boomers to have not submitted a business expense to avoid completing an expense report.

Bad expense management can a hurt a company’s reputation

A better approach to expense reports can give business travelers a fresh outlook on their employer:

  • 84 percent say they would think more highly of their employer.
  • 78 percent say they would be more productive if the expense reporting system was easier to use.

Supporting Quotes

Dan Fritcher, Division Chief Technology Officer, TriNet Cloud

“With U.S. business travel spending expected to top $310 billion in 2015, archaic expense reporting isn’t just frustrating managers and annoying employees - it’s lowering morale, hurting productivity and costing businesses time and money. Simple cloud technology solutions can alleviate these concerns.”

Millennials are driving the future of work, yet many companies are still in the dark ages when it comes to the basics of expense management. Simple cloud technology solutions can do more than alleviate the burden for employees – they can be a key factor in retaining great talent and making them more productive.”

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For current HR news, visit the TriNet Blog: http://www.trinet.com/blog/

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About the TriNet Expense Report Survey

The TriNet Expense Report Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com)

(1) Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey

(2) Source: Global Business Travelers Association