Survey: 1 in 3 workers have stolen from their employer

Survey: 1 in 3 workers have stolen from their employer

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ATLANTA -

Chances are you've done it. That's according to new survey that reports one in every three U.S. workers has stolen from their employer. Often, the offenders expensed personal items, drafted false expense reports and inflated a taxi ride fare.

The numbers from 2013 Employee Spending Survey conducted by Coupa Software, a leading provider of cloud-based finance solutions. The survey spoke with 500 American office workers, aged 18 and older, in June.

The survey, which was drafted based on Coupa's knowledge of workplace spending habits and norms, found that employees believe so-called "maverick spending" is costing their companies a lot of money.

About 58% have estimated that it is as much as $25,000 a year in waste, fraud and abuse, with many who say it is much more, including 9% who believe it is in excess of $100,000 and 6% who say it is more than $200,000 per year.

Many say this is driven in part by the frustrations office workers are encountering when they need to make a work-related purchase. In fact, 84% of office workers say they experience such difficulties, including:

-- Feeling pressure to negotiate a "good deal" - 46%
-- Too many levels of approval - 46%
-- Fear of being denied reimbursement - 43%
-- Not sure how to purchase without buying, then expensing - 27%
-- Unclear on process - 25%

In addition, more than half (54%) of employees are now saying they have "gone rogue," making purchases without the advance approval of their manager and an additional two-thirds (66%) say they have made "risky purchases," including:

-- Overly expensive dinner - 38%
-- Office supplies for home use - 23%
-- Upgrade to a higher level of airline service - 22%
-- Smartphone - 18%
-- Exercise equipment - 9%
-- Personal clothing items - 7%

So what can companies do about it? Nearly all (98%) of the survey respondents say that companies should take action now, and most point the finger at expense reports. Among the actions employees say companies should take are:

-- Better oversight of expense reporting - 62%
-- Maintain guidelines for travel reimbursement - 54%
-- Audit expense reports randomly - 50%
-- Implement a fully functional procurement system for all purchases - 38%
-- Curb use of company charge cards - 36%
-- Prosecute employees who steal from the company - 33%
-- Question expenditures often - 32%

-- More levels of approval for employee expenses - 21%
-- Initiate formal review processes - 21%

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