It’s fair to say that the British aren’t good at talking about money. We get a tad squeamish when it comes to discussing salaries and even splitting the bill, meaning that, yes, you are going to be paying for that glass of house red and starter you didn’t eat. 

Food and drink jokes aside, while paying a little bit extra is commonplace, it’s important these habits of covering costs do not become the norm in the workplace. According to our recent research, a staggering 7 million British workers are using their own money for work purchases, leading to a staggering annual total of £51 billion in out-of-pocket expenses. 

At a time when living costs are surging and inflation is rising, it’s rightly important that employers ensure their workers aren’t unfairly left out-of-pocket. But for businesses, ensuring their financial operations are running efficiently and effectively too, is also equally essential during a period of economic instability. Overhanging employee expenses should be seen as the red flag that empowers businesses to assess how and what they can be doing better to improve the financial health of their company and workforce in equal measure. 

With this in mind, let’s look at where positive change could be made. 

Turn your CFO into your MVP

Could it be that your CFO is much like your jar of marmite? Much-loved, but often shoved to the back of the cupboard? If so, now is the time to retrieve them. For a role so steeped in financial know-how, the talent of CFOs is often spurned on sifting through receipts and sweating the small stuff when it comes to company financials.

This is not the best way to prepare when your business is dealing with recession. Instead, your business should look to embrace technology to take as much of the nitty-gritty away from their day-to-day as possible, and help them focus on the bigger picture, advising your CEO on financial strategy and adding some financial sensibilities into company ambitions. 

This doesn’t mean that they leave the world of expenses behind—rather, it means they are freed up enough to make broad strokes in how you change and optimise your policy. Not only bringing in a friendly robot assistant in the form of an expenses management system, but kicking off a culture change that can have welcome ramifications across the business.

Change your policies to change your culture

Every company will have an expenses policy, but not every company will have an effective one. By liberating your CFO from time-sapping manual tasks, you can allow them to cast their beady financial eye on the policies and the structures you have in place.

This might sound like run of the mill stuff businesses will be tempted to relegate to the bottom of the to-do list, but this is a crucial step in revolutionising your workplace culture around money. 

Everyone deserves to feel valued at work and this is a major step in that direction. Research from Pleo found that 43% of workers were unable to meet a personal financial obligation because of spending money spent on expenses. This means bills, rent and groceries all go on hold while expenses wait to be approved.

Technology such as business spending solutions aren’t just nice-to-haves, they are a mark of strong company culture and a sign of trust placed in the employee, handing them back the reins and involving them in a too-often mysterious process. This means that ultimately, with expenses in safe hands, the business can turn its attention to bigger things.

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Return time (and not just money) to your employees

With workers spending a chunk of their time managing their expenses, not to mention sourcing the receipts that slip into the chasm of wallets and coat pockets, getting smarter about expenses is key to ensuring your team isn’t wasting time on processes that can be easily simplified. 

By employing technology solutions that automate these processes—whether it’s task management, expense management, data entry, or more—you can ensure your people are remaining productive and focused on the work that makes the best use of their time.

Regardless of staying agile in the midst of a recession, this will come to serve your business well in the future as they’ll no longer be bogged down by time-intensive tasks and can focus on the stuff that matters (and let’s face it, makes them look good). Employee retention is a hot topic right now, and ensuring your team is given every tool they need to work efficiently and effectively is vital to keeping them (and your business) happy.

While none of us quite know what the recession will look like, the benefits of upgrading your internal financial structure and giving both time and money back to employees are evergreen. 

You can ensure that your business isn’t just able to see out the recession, but that it can build resilience for future unforeseen circumstances lurking around the corner; and remains agile enough to still deliver on ambitious goals at the same time. Given the timing, it could be that we owe a sizable thank you to the Great British IOU.

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