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February 27, 2024

5 min read

Nearly One in Four Employees Have Used Expense Fraud to Ease the Financial Burden of Company Policies

Emburse survey with YouGov reveals financial pressure from late reimbursement and return-to-office policies is prompting "revenge spending" where workers pass off personal purchases as business expenses

LOS ANGELES AND PORTLAND, MAINE — February 27, 2024 — Emburse, Inc., the world’s largest independent provider of travel and expense software, today announced survey findings revealing that employees are so concerned about their personal finances, and the cost of complying with return-to-office (RTO) policies, that many are passing off personal expenses as business expenses. Emburse warns of a looming “Spendageddon,” a point where finance leaders lose spend control because of the tension between their practices and employee needs.

Emburse’s survey of over 1,000 workers, conducted by YouGov, reveals how widespread it is to commit expense fraud, a clear sign of Spendageddon. Nearly a quarter (24%) of employees admit to making personal purchases and passing them off as business expenses as a result of their financial circumstances. Rather than reducing fraud, the survey indicated that corporate expense practices may contribute to the problem. As employees struggle with their own personal finances and are forced to incur costs on behalf of their employer, these out-of-policy claims seem to be evidence of “revenge spending.”

Corporate Expense Practices Costing Employees

  • 62% reported that they are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about their personal finances.
  • 40% reported incurring fees (overdraft, excess, or late payment) or interest on a personal credit or debit card because of a business purchase.
  • 19% reported incurring interest on a personal credit card due to late reimbursement from an employer.
  • 19% have had to delay purchases or payments while waiting to be reimbursed.

Return-to-Office Strain on Employees’ Wallets

Further, employees report experiencing higher expenses as a result of their employer’s return-to-office (RTO) policy:

  • 27% of employees have seen increased commute expenses.
  • 20% of workers report increased food expenses.
  • 12% have had increased childcare or pet care expenses.
  • 13% reported having to move cities to comply with their company’s return-to-office mandate.

“Employers can - and should - lessen the burden on employees without compromising their own need for efficiency. Strong corporate spend and virtual card policies keep employees from having to dip into their personal finances, expense automation speeds up reimbursements so no one has to incur fees or interest, and giving employees greater visibility into policies builds trust– all of which improves productivity,” said Adriana Carpenter, Emburse’s Chief Financial Officer. “Failing to address the tension between employees and finance departments is a mistake. To describe it as Spendageddon might sound dramatic, but, for many, the consequences of inaction will be keenly felt.”

“Emburse has worked with many of our customers to deliver card-based expense solutions to their employees. Corporate cards eliminate the need for individuals to wait for their reimbursements, offer deep spend visibility, cut out-of-policy transactions, and also provide cash rebates to the organization. There’s really no need for a conflict between providing a quality employee experience and maximizing bottom-line benefits for the organization,” concluded Carpenter.

To read more about this survey and its findings, click here.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1,021 adults aged 18-64, employed full-time, and identified with one of the following job titles: Chairman/Board Member, Partner/Owner, President/CEO/COO, CFO/Controller/Treasurer, CIO/CTO, Executive Vice President/Senior VP, Vice President/Assistant VP/Principal, General Manager, Director/Department Head, Manager/Senior Manager, Assistant Director/Assistant Manager, Account Manager/Account Director, Product Manager, CPA, or Lawyer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th - 11th of January 2024. The survey was carried out online.

About Emburse

Emburse makes expense management simple. Our expense, travel management, accounts payable, and payments solutions are trusted by more than 12 million professionals, including CFOs and finance teams, travel managers, and business travelers. More than 20,000 organizations in 120 countries, from Global 2000 corporations and small-medium businesses, to public sector agencies and nonprofits, count on us to manage expenses with ease, providing user-friendly tools and personalized support.

Our AI-based automation and mobile-first product approach eliminate manual, time-consuming expense submissions, approval and reconciliation. We deliver efficiency and time savings, increase financial visibility, enhance spend control and compliance, and improve the business travel experience. This empowers our customers and their teams to focus on what matters most in their personal and professional lives.

For more information visit emburse.com, or follow our social channels at @emburse.