What’s worse than filing state and federal income tax returns once a year? Filing business travel expense reports.
That’s the top line result from a poll of 1,000 U.S. business travelers conducted by Wakefield Research for cloud-based HR provider TriNet. The company used the survey, conducted in May and June, to publicize its mobile expense reporting app, Expense Cloud. An updated version is due for release this summer.
“Not many people like expense reporting, including us,” said TriNet’s chief technology officer Daniel Fritcher. “That’s why we got into the mobile expense reporting business. Like everybody else, we were stuck with Excel spreadsheets and bags of receipts. We hated it!”
It’s easy to accept that expense reporting is a time sink for employees and a pain in the wallet.
And it’s just as easy to acknowledge that expense reporting rates at or near the bottom of the list of favorite activities for business unit managers and travel managers.
But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of numbers about just how much employees dislike expense reports and what it costs them.
Wakefield Research surveyed business travelers in May and June, 2015 to find out.
Even tax returns are more pleasant
More than half of respondents to the study, 53%, said they would rather prepare tax returns than spend time doing expense reports.
The same percentage, 53%, said they had not submitted at least one business expense for reimbursement in order to avoid submitting an expense report.
Forty-three percent said they would rather spend an extra hour commuting to work in the morning than spend an hour filling out expense reports.
Nearly three quarters of business travelers, 73%, said they felt like they were the company’s bank, floating a loan for business expenses.
The largest average expense employees floated pending reimbursement was $2,604, nearly three times the median US housing cost of $966.
Waiting on reimbursement
Nine out of ten travelers were frustrated with waiting for reimbursement.
The longest average wait for payment was five weeks. Sixty percent said they had trouble paying personal bills while they waited for the company to pay them back on business expenses.
Three-quarters of respondents said they would be more productive if the expense reporting system was easier to use. And a huge majority, 84%, said they would think more highly of their employer if the expense reporting process were better.
Younger employees feel the pinch more than older employees.
Millennial workers are 21% more likely than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers to have difficulty with personal bills while waiting for expense reimbursement.
Millennials are 24% more likely than older colleagues to have not submitted a business expense in order to avoid submitting an expense report.