How Do You Reimburse Candidates for Travel? Your Answer Matters More Than Ever

I recently met up with a friend who had traveled to interview with a Fortune 100 technology-based company.  When I asked her about it, she shared her enthusiasm for the opportunity and mentioned how impressed she was by the people she met. However, there was one thing that left her with a very negative impression.

“I’m still waiting to be reimbursed for my travel expenses,” she said. “It’s been three weeks.”

My friend also complained about the time consuming task of submitting the expenses. These had to be logged via an Excel spreadsheet that was riddled with confusing drop down fields. She also had to scan and email her receipts.

Not quite what you would expect from one of the most successful tech-based companies in the U.S.

Long story short, my friend was eventually reimbursed – two months after her interview. She didn’t get the job and her reimbursement experience left a bad impression, one that she freely shares with others.

The Candidate Experience is More Important Than Ever

Today, the topic of “the candidate experience” is spurring discussions within recruiting and HR offices, as well as boardrooms, across the country.

Why? Because competition to land top employees is steep. According to the 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ratio of unemployed Americans to open jobs has shifted significantly:

As companies compete for top talent, providing job candidates with a positive experience is critical and, when job candidates travel, expense reimbursement is part of their experience.

Need Proof? Look No Further Than

A quick look on jobs and recruiting site, reveals that a job candidate’s rating of a potential employer can sink to one star, if the process of being reimbursed is lengthy and cumbersome.

“Will not reimburse my job interview expenses” is the title of a job candidate’s one-star Glassdoor review of an Indiana manufacturing company.

– Another candidate seeking an engineering position at a Colorado firm wrote that after four weeks, job interview travel expenses had not been reimbursed and the candidate was “disappointed in having to ask for reimbursement status.”

– Yet another candidate vying for a software engineering position in Austin, Texas, remarked on Glassdoor that waiting a month for interview expense reimbursements gave a “very negative feeling and experience” and the potential employee would rather apply to companies that “treat candidates in a more professional manner.”

Need More Proof?

According to a survey commissioned by Career Builder, negative feedback via word-of-mouth, social media and job sites can hinder a company’s ability to land talent.

However, investing in a strong candidate experience improves the quality of a company’s hires by 70 percent, according to a 2015 report by Delray Beach, Fla.-based research firm the Brandon Hall Group.

Reimbursement Is Challenging, You’re Not Alone

Companies of all sizes can be faced with travel expense reimbursement snafus. According to research and consulting firm PayStream Advisors, Inc., top challenges organizations face in the reimbursement process for candidates include:

– Manual data entry      

– Distraction for recruiters

– An uncomfortable position to have to enforce corporate travel policies

What You Can Do: 4 Best Practices

While many companies are struggling with reimbursement, others are using it as a competitive advantage as they vie for top talent. By following these four best practices, you can improve your candidate experience.

1) Tap Into Technology

Technology benefits candidates and corporations. An automated system improves adherence to corporate travel guidelines and captures data for visibility into spend, which allows employers to report on candidate spend by categories such as type of candidate or division.

2) Make It Easy

Skip the spreadsheets and the scanners. Using a simple and intuitive reimbursement app, candidates can capture receipts with their mobile phones and submit expenses easily.

3) Pay Candidates Quickly

Above all else, ensure candidates are paid quickly. For some, a lengthy reimbursement process can cause a financial hardship. Regardless, no one should have to wait weeks or months to get reimbursed.

4) Opt for Outsourcing

Outsourcing travel expense reimbursement is an option companies can consider to give job candidates a point of contact and an expert to answer questions while offering employers a third-party to address non-approved candidate expenses. Additionally, this leaves a company’s recruitment team to maintain focus on core responsibilities.

With today’s technology and resources, there’s no reason for companies to maintain antiquated processes. Top candidates are out there, but they have a lot of choices; make your company the clear choice.

By Maureen Longoria

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