The weirdest things people have tried to expense on their boss's dime

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
A Few Things You Shouldn't Buy With a Corporate Credit Card


The rewards of a good job are no longer just a number on your paycheck, but also the additional "perks" that come along with the gig. These perks can include everything from free food in the office to an expense account or company credit card.

Robert Half Management Resources, a finance and accounting staffing firm, decided to find out what employees are trying to expense on the company dime. To do so, the firm conducted phone interviews with 2,200 chief financial officers from 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

Some of the answers are rather surprising and almost unbelievable. Would someone really ask the company to buy them a dog or pay for a lottery ticket? Apparently they will. They'll reportedly even ask to expense their home remodels and vacations.

In fact, the number of inappropriate expense requests appear to have been on the rise in recent years and only 11% of executives interviewed reported a drop in them. These are the 20 most eccentric employee expense requests the firm heard from these interviews.

  1. Ski trips
  2. Lottery tickets
  3. Rental homes
  4. Spa day
  5. Cruise
  6. Cosmetic surgery
  7. Scuba diving
  8. Half a cow
  9. Flowers for spouse
  10. A dog
  11. Taxidermy
  12. 10-cent parking meter charge
  13. Toilet paper
  14. Bubble bath
  15. Somebody else's salary
  16. Flat-screen TV
  17. Hair cut
  18. Home remodel
  19. Driving lessons
  20. Car payment

The Consequences of Bizarre Expenses

It may seem that smaller expenses, especially things like a 10-cent parking meter charge, won't even be a blip on the radar for big businesses. But these numbers add up and employee expense accounts can be detrimental.

"Inappropriate expense reports are costly – both to the company's bottom line and to the careers of the people who submit them," Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, said in a press release. The firm recommends that companies clearly outline their policies on what is and isn't covered on expense accounts.

As for employees, it's a good idea to read these policies carefully or ask if you're unclear about what you can claim as an expense — you don't want to lose your job as a result an inappropriate request. Without a regular source of income, you face the risk of defaulting on loan obligations, incurring late fees on a slew of bills or worse. And any missed payments or high credit card balances as a result of unemployment will hurt your credit scores. You can see how your payment history and debt levels are affecting your credit by getting two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.


Related: 9 ways the workplace will change in the future
10 PHOTOS
9 ways the workplace will change in the future
See Gallery
The weirdest things people have tried to expense on their boss's dime

In the past 25 years, one-quarter of companies have reduced the number of layers of management they have, moving toward a flatter, more grid-like management structure.

We've already seen it in companies like Vegas-based e-commerce site Zappos, which eliminated employee titles just over two years ago in favor of a manager-free "holacracy."

"Traditional roles are going to disappear because many workplaces are going to disappear, so the whole structural hierarchical system is going to disappear," said James Canton, PhD, chairman and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures and author of "Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that Will Transform Your World." "You'll end up with a system, a network of humans and artificial intelligence, crowd-based intelligence — they're all going to get mashed up."

In May, NPR created a digital tool to calculate how likely it is that certain jobs will be taken over by robots 20 years from now.

Manual-labor jobs appear to be most at risk, while jobs that require empathy, like social workers and caretakers, are least at risk.

A University of Oxford report predicts that "by 2030, let alone by 2050, we'll have lost almost 50% of the workforce to artificial intelligence," said David Price, co-founder of cultural-change practice We Do Things Differently and author of "OPEN: How We'll Work, Live and Learn in the Future."

The Oxford report, which examined sectors most likely to lose jobs, noted that the transportation and logistics industry was particularly susceptible to upheaval thanks to the development of driverless cars by companies like Google.

Even jobs that seemingly require the human touch, like the classroom teacher, are at risk. 

"We're already seeing experiments with this robot in the classroom, and when you ask kids with autism which one they'd rather be taught by, the teacher or the robot, they pick the robot," Price said.

New technology doesn't always mean the loss of jobs. The invention of the printing press actually created a lot of jobs back in the day, said Price, "and we're going to gain jobs as well, but it's guesswork which jobs we'll gain."

Canton predicts a scenario in which humans and robots work side-by-side in the future, where new jobs could include operating artificial intelligence-based technology and old jobs could be augmented by it.

"We're going to need to train people — whether on the factory floor or in a call center — how to use A.I. smarter," Canton said. "So right now the era of using these knowledge bases is kind of cumbersome, but over the next decades artificial intelligence will sense what somebody is asking a customer and will help the human operator provide better service."

It's cheaper for employers, who have an entire world of workers at their fingertips, to hire freelancers as needed rather than full-time employees, as it doesn't involve a lengthy hiring process or require them to offer benefits like health insurance or social security.

Many workers are also starting to opt for freelance employment over full-time employment, giving them more jurisdiction over the hours they work and the jobs they take on.

But Price cautioned that this dynamic has the potential to exploit the labor force. Are workers choosing this route because "they want to freelance, or because they can't find a job?" Price wondered. "When companies are outsourcing so many jobs, people say, 'Well, I might as well become freelance because I can't get a job.'"

If the only reason people will freelance is because companies don't want to hire and pay full-time workers,"What kind of a society are we going to be getting?'" Price asked. "Are corporations going to employ a living wage, or are governments going to have to force that?"

People are living longer, and the cost of living keeps going up, requiring many to keep working much later in life. Younger generations also aren't saving money for retirement the way their parents' generation did, because they can't afford it.

"I think people will live and work as long as they're capable," Price said.

But advancements in medical treatments and remedies to the negative health effects of aging could mean people are more energized and suited to working at older ages, according to a report on the future of work by financial-insurance provider UNUM.

A "future of work" report from PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that people will continue shifting away from the one life, one career mentality — an already observable trend among millennials. Workers will follow their passions as they change, and for many that also means changing careers.

But another driving force behind the phenomenon is a demand for social consciousness: Are companies ethically minded? Do they care about their customers, their environment, their employees?

Corporations "have to have more of a social purpose," said Price, "because people are much more ethically aware now, and people won't invest in companies that don't have a strong ethics." Companies have to prove that they're worth the time of their workers — that they have missions, values that they're invested in, and goals for becoming socially responsible in order to attract and retain employees.

The PwC report also envisions a world in which employers can monitor and screen their employees at a much more advanced level: "Sensors check their location, performance and health," the report states. "The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests."

The Daily Telegraph learned such measures will likely be met with resistance. The British newspaper installed motion detectors in early January to track their reporters but quickly abandoned them after incurring angry blowback. 

"Will companies develop a kind of 'Big Brother' approach to checking on their employees? Possibly, but I think more of them will think they need to be engaged in supporting [their employees]," Price said.

He pointed out how many Silicon Valley tech executives are setting up schools for their kids and their employees' kids in order to provide a better, more tech-focused brand of education.

"These paternalistic philanthropists who want to give their workers housing, keep them out of the pubs, [and] look after their health" may seem intruding or controlling, Price said, but "it will be in companies' best economic interest ... to play a much more active role in that."

Coworking spaces are becoming more and more popular, not just among freelancers and entrepreneurs but also corporations that can use them to relocate employees. Dissolving the traditional office headquarters would enable companies to hire the best candidates all over the world regardless of proximity to a central company hub.

Social media engagement platform Buffer announced in October that it's getting rid of its office and instead letting employees work remotely or from coworking spaces, which Buffer will pay for.

“With an office, if team members are in San Francisco it can be easy to delay meetings until all team members are in the office. The conclusion we came to is that we should always do the thing we can do immediately," said Buffer co-founder and CEO Joel Gascoigne, adding that digital advances like Google Hangouts or HipChat help Buffer survive by facilitating instant meetings, messages, and face-to-face conversations regardless of employees' locations.

Both Price and Dr. Canton imagine a world in which driverless vehicles could eliminate mass transit and transportation jobs, but on the positive side, these cars could potentially eliminate daily commuter traffic, not to mention crashes and fender benders.

"Cars are going to have V2V, a vehicle-to-vehicle capability, and self-driving cars could be preventing a lot of accidents and saving a lot of lives," Dr. Canton said — perhaps as many as 30,000 a year.

This vehicle-to-vehicle capability, technology that lets cars monitor and communicate with each other, would track the speed of each car and facilitate and ease road congestion, making commutes more efficient and headache-free.

But these technological advancements aren't an excuse for humans to grow complacent and expect computers or artificial intelligence to do all the work — on the road, or in the office.

"The preferred future is not one where machines run everything and we just go on vacation," said Dr. Canton, but rather one where human lives and jobs are made easier by the aid and advance of technology. "Our jobs are being changed because computers and networks can do [some] jobs more efficiently than humans can. That doesn't mean eliminating humans, but it means retraining humans to keep pace with it all."

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


More from Credit.com
The Best Business Credit Cards in America
An Expert Guide for Picking a Business Credit Card
Chase Ink Cash vs. Chase Ink Plus: What's Right for Your Small Business?

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Read Full Story

People are Reading