High Responsibility Culture

It is generally understood that no one likes to be micromanaged, and that too austere policing results in unhappy and unproductive employees. So how do companies keep spend under control and understand which dollars are being spent effectively, without upsetting employees with a strict company culture? Taxes, labor laws and a need to understand ROI require companies to have control over where dollars go and who is spending what, but how do you do that without impacting morale?

In an effort to attract the right candidates, companies have long considered a great corporate culture an asset. When companies examine the workplace and try to understand what candidates might want from a work environment, interesting ideas can crop up.

One such has been the rise of “responsibility culture.” talented, skilled employees, take a great deal of responsibility for their own success. When you have a strong social contract built among employees, it’s less necessary to build safeguards against small infractions – because they don’t happen. Some companies are even beginning to do away with regulatory functions altogether. The idea is to loosen restrictions on high-performing, deeply invested employees and encourage them to work smarter not harder?

Evolutionary anthropologists and psychologists have been studying altruism for decades and studies indicate that most people, if left to their own devices, are naturally inclined to do the right thing.

Millennials have a well-documented drive for autonomy, social responsibility, group involvement and a deep investment in “doing good”. Employees with these values  thrive in a company culture of responsibility where an individual’s highest work performance is expected and their fidelity to the bottom line and the greater good is assumed.

At first glance, the connection from company culture to expense management might not seem clear. Typically, employees are required to have their expenses approved by their manager. Frequently lengthy policies are in effect stating inflexibly what expenses are and are not considered acceptable, and expense reports that have been processed go through a lengthy auditing process to assure that each charge is compliant with policy. Is it necessary? There is a good parallel with vacation time …

Some companies have eliminated vacation time restrictions from their company culture altogether, leaving employees to decide what time off to take. The ideas is that if a worker is meeting their obligations, achieving their, and bringing value to the company, then what’s wrong with vacation time? And if the employee isn’t accomplishing those things the vacation issue is less important compared to other considerations.

One of the largest expenses – besides operating costs – is business travel and the related entertainment expenses. Company culture plays a role here as well. No one wants to have a conversation with their manager or an auditor about why they selected a specific room, hotel or seat on an airplane. Sometimes those decisions are private and depend on the health and mental wellness needs of the traveler.

At Traveldoo we want to treat employees like adults. We always try to ask whether a particular policy exists because it’s a default piece of corporate thinking that everyone expects, or does it actually help us accomplish something? And very often you realize that you don’t really know why you’re doing something, so we just stop doing it.

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