A sound expense policy is a cornerstone of smart back office management. Employees must be able to spend money, whether their own or the company's, to do their jobs — and companies need to keep costs in check. But even the best policies have limits.
For Niel Nickolaisen, chief technology officer at a Bay Area software company, that limit was $57 worth of ice cream sandwiches — and the brouhaha it created.
As he explains in The Huffington Post
, Nickolaisen purchased the treats a couple of years ago for a Fourth of July team picnic. A little sun, ice cream and a moment to relax is great for team building, right? But when he turned in his expense report, the finance department balked. He had apparently clipped part of the date from the receipt — the company's policy required dates on all receipts — and finance wouldn't budge. It was a small annoyance, Nickolaisen admits, but it highlights a bigger problem: Rigid policies can be counter-productive, even damaging to employee morale.
"Trust is the foundation that supports all great workplace cultures.... Yet, there are many things that we do reduce trust. Sometimes, the trust destroyers are the actions of others and sometimes they are processes we put in place—processes that send a strong message of low trust," Nickolaisen says.
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