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Research reveals workplace ‘devils’ behind UK expenses fraud

What is it that makes so many UK employees commit expenses fraud?

The latest research commissioned by webexpenses shows the number of workers who admit to having claimed ‘dodgy’ expenses in the past year to be an astonishing 85 percent.

It’s a problem which has become deeply entrenched within the British business world with the National Fraud Authority estimating that it costs companies in excess of £100 million each year.

So why does such a high percentage of our workforce - including employees who are otherwise law abiding and honest - feel so comfortable with committing expenses fraud?

This was the focus for a study which takes a look at the various workplace ‘angels’ and ‘devils’ which influence employees when it comes to making an expenses claim.

These are part of a moral tug-of-war which take place between our ‘good’ and ‘bad’ selves - the temptations to be ‘creative’ with expenses claims, pitched against our basic decency and honesty.

More than 1,000 UK employees were surveyed as part of the research with the respondents being given an absolute assurance that all answers given would remain anonymous.

Fuelling Fraud

The results provide a fascinating insight into some of the core factors behind the high levels of expenses fraud we find within British businesses.

It’s by gaining a better understanding of these root causes that organisations can start to find much more effective ways to fight fraud.

One of the main areas highlighted by the data findings is the crucial role that workplace culture can have on employees when it comes to attitudes towards expenses..

The main ‘devil’ most employees used to justify the exaggerating or falsifying of their claims was simply that - ‘everyone else does it’.

This workplace influence may also help to explain why employees appear to become more likely to commit expenses fraud with age.

More than a quarter (26%) of respondents, aged 45-54, admitted to having falsified claims in excess of £500, this was in contrast to just nine percent for workers under the age of 24.

Other important workplace devils identified included discontented staff with grudges against their employers, ineffective expenses monitoring and the lack of a sufficient deterrent for those caught.

Commenting on the findings, Adam Reynolds, CEO of webexpenses, said:

“It’s clear from the research that there are far too many people over claiming on expenses in the UK workplace.“What’s more, the results show that having a small group of expenses devils in the workplace, can encourage others to follow similar behaviour when it comes to expense claims.“Organisations need to work to create an environment where fraudulent behaviour is no longer legitimised.“By using cloud-based expenses software like webexpenses, in conjunction with robust and clear expense policies, companies can reduce fraud and tackle those workplace ‘devils’.”

The full findings from the latest webexpenses research together with a practical guide to eliminating expenses fraud can be found in the Banish the Expenses ‘Devils’ From Your Business white paper.