Four Steps to Effective Communication within Your Expense Program

employee conversation

Streamlined expense programs are high on the list of cost-saving strategies for companies —but aren’t always a priority for its participants. However, creating clear communication between management and employees can help build incentive throughout the entire company to care about and comply with an expense program and its policies.

The communication that results from sufficient training, adequate feedback, strong accountability, and an established review system can help maximize time-efficiency, savings, and compliance. These following four steps can foster the communication needed between cardholders, managers, and the various departments involved in the expense system, to ensure an effective, successful program.

Aim for Clarity to Achieve Compliance

Education and training are extremely important for compliance in any expense program. It’s critical that every cardholder and manager is familiar with all policies and best practices.

However, expense reports, receipt reconciliation, and the transaction review process can be overwhelming for new and, in some cases, current participants. To combat this overwhelm, the training offered should be accessible, consistent, and clear.

Interactive training ensures engagement and further promotes compliance. Tracking attendance, utilizing exams to assess comprehension, and requiring signed policy statements can help confirm that the trainees fully understand what’s being taught.

While adding on the task of training staff might seem like an enormous burden to your company, keep in mind its importance to your expense system, and the work and money it will save in the long run.

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Normalize Accountability

Without proper systems in place, it’s easy for communication between managers and cardholders to break down — or even subside completely. To prevent a breakdown, consistent communication via email updates for cardholders and management should be a routine process within your expense program.

Such consistency acts as a reminder to employees that someone — just as often — is monitoring their spending behavior, which in return provides what is often referred to in the industry as the “Hawthorne Effect.” The theory behind this effect asserts that employees who at least believe that they are being watched will adjust their behavior accordingly, in a positive manner, so as not to be “caught” doing anything wrong. This constant communication also quickly sheds light on any real issues and provides the opportunity for those issues to be corrected just as swiftly.

Regularly sent updates to cardholders create a clear line of communication and accountability. Managers should be included in email correspondence to encourage proper behavior and the incentive to comply. Even small reminders for cardholders to turn in receipts or stay at a particular hotel can translate to significant cost savings and program efficiency.

Consider also establishing a fraud hotline.  This anonymous reporting method can be a significant source of fraud detection within a company. Card Integrity offers a fraud hotline service to our customers, thus providing an important non-vested, impartial party as the phone line’s overseer.

Prioritize Alerts

Positive reinforcement and constructive insight will improve program confidence and reduce the risk of misunderstandings. While it’s important to establish regular email correspondence with cardholders, sharing too much information can be detrimental to your communication goals. It’s unnecessary to send every single finding; rather, choose only the top alerts to share with cardholders.

You might be pleasantly surprised to find that many well-meaning employees will appreciate the feedback. But remember not to over-report to those cardholders who regularly practice good purchasing habits.

Revisit and Review

By implementing regularly scheduled reviews and feedback, you can also apply proper updates to the program and its policies. Expense programs should use both cardholder and manager feedback along with data findings to adjust procedures accordingly, to maintain an ever-improving system.

Make sure you encourage employee feedback on policies and procedures, and then establish a method for collecting this feedback in an effective manner. When program policies are updated, distribute the new material throughout the company, making it available to participants in an always easy-to-find place — perhaps online.

Turning the Communication Key

It’s one thing to acknowledge that communication is an important key within your expense program. It’s yet another to “turn” that key — to actually put that communication to work within the program. But with communication services so readily available and easy-to-implement from Card Integrity, implementing these steps becomes the natural next step to improve the efficiency of your expense program.

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