How to control employee expense fraud in a hybrid work environment?

Apr 05, 2024

As global travel restrictions have opened up once again companies are, once again, having to deal with an increasing amount of expense fraud.

Moreover, as the environment in which companies work has gone hybrid, so has the prevalence of expense fraud. Consequently, companies now have had to adapt to and manage employee expense fraud in a new, hybrid era.

Expense management challenges due to a shift to hybrid work environment

1. Changeover in spend categories of business

As work has gone more and more hybrid so have so many aspects connected to it. Expense management, in particular, has had to grow to accommodate new, more diverse spending categories in business.

This includes spending done on factors like home-work environment setups, travel expenses for employees working hybrid, work-from-anywhere setups and so much more.

This changeover in spending categories of business has brought with it its own set of challenges for expense management.

2. Surge in miscellaneous expenses

As workforces have become increasingly hybrid the costs associated with their upkeep and maintenance have also diversified, leading to more and more expenses that are considered to be miscellaneous.

When working from home employees often have to incur expenses such as home-work set up repairs, food, and beverages purchased when working from home, and internet bills incurred while working.

These miscellaneous expenses have surged as the workplace has become more hybrid and they present a unique challenge to finance and accounting teams.

3. Rise in policy violations

As more employees are working from home, or in a hybrid setup, it has become increasingly difficult to control their spending behavior.

It is understandable that maintaining control over employee spending behavior when they are working from an outside office is harder than when they used to work from the office.

This has resulted in an increase in spend policy violations. Policy violations are difficult to manage remotely and they present a significant challenge to expense management.

Identifying types of expense expense fraud

Overstated receipts

These include expenses that were legitimate but were overstated when employees submit receipts for claims.

As out-of-pocket expenses have increased in the hybrid environment so has the ease with which employees are able to inflate legitimate expenses and pocket the difference.

It is easier than you can imagine to digitally alter final prices on photocopies of invoices or receipts. Employees may also add small increments to miscellaneous expenses such as purchasing supplies, mileage totals, and fuel reimbursements.

Falsifying expense claims

Falsified or fictitious expense claims are yet another way in which business expense fraud happens. These include expenses that get reimbursed but were never really incurred in the first place.

Employees often do this by submitting falsified or fake receipts. Such expense claims also include fictitious home supplies purchases, luncheons or gifts for clients, fees paid for registering for virtual events or workshops that never really took place, and so on.

Claiming double reimbursement

Duplicate or double reimbursements are expenses that are reported more than one time. This could include instances where an employee used their corporate card to buy something yet also submitted a receipt to claim reimbursement for that item.

Other instances include old receipts submitted for double reimbursement, the same bill submitted by two people for reimbursement, and other cases.

Best applied strategies to curb and control employee expense fraud

1. Revise the obsolete expense policies

If you have expense policies that have been around for a long time it is time for you to revise them, especially if these policies have been in place since the pre-hybrid work era.

As the spend categories and behavior have changed with the hybrid work environment so have the requirements for curbing them.

You must revise old, obsolete expense policies to combat the new forms of expense reimbursement fraud that take place.

2. Monitor funds & approval requests

Employee expense fraud is at its worst when left unmonitored. To prevent misuse of funds you must ensure your finances are always monitored and approval requests are thoroughly vetted.

The best way to do this is by using expense management software, like Volopay. Use Volopay to keep track of every single penny spent in your company, in real-time.

3. Ensure compliance with automated expense systems

You can also use automated expense systems like Volopay to boost the level of compliance in your company.

By implementing such a system you can greatly reduce the prevalence of business expense fraud. These systems are capable of keeping track of each and every transaction made in real-time.

Furthermore, you can even set limits for purchases made with company cards and set up highly customized approval workflows to ensure unauthorized expenses never go unchecked.

4. Track reimbursement claims

It’s easy for expense reimbursement fraud to go unchecked when you don’t track reimbursement claims. Duplicate or fictitious claims often bypass systems because of this very reason.

You can use systems like Volopay to ensure this never happens. Every single transaction is tracked on Volopay and reimbursements never get approved until they qualify every policy measure you’ve put in place.

5. Adopting an integrated spending solution

An integrated spending solution is your best friend when it comes to ensuring complete visibility and control over your business expenses.

Getting the best expense management software gives you a comprehensive dashboard from where you can manage, control, restrict and curb all finance and accounting operations.

For example, on Volopay you can directly integrate your accounts payable, travel, payroll, reimbursement, and accounting operations.

How does Volopay help in preventing expense fraud?

To sum it all up, employee expense fraud can be quite difficult to deal with when working in a hybrid environment, but not impossible.

Especially when you have a comprehensive expense management solution like Volopay at hand, managing employee expense fraud in a hybrid work environment can be made to be much easier than it otherwise would be.

You can use highly adept fraud prevention and expense control tools to ensure not a single penny ever gets sacrificed to fraud again.

The custom approval workflows, invoice processing, spend control, and reimbursement features that Volopay comes with guarantee concrete control over all company finances.

Eliminate expense fraud by adopting a expense management solution!