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Nearly 1/3 UK employees have had to ask friends or family for cash because of company expenses

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Nearly 1/3 UK employees have had to ask friends or family for cash because of company expenses

New independent research from Expend highlights expense farce across UK 

London – The expense system of businesses in the UK is in a farcical state, according to recent research of UK employees commissioned by expense software company Expend. Nearly 1/3 (29%) of respondents have asked friends or family for cash while out of pocket waiting for company expenses to be reimbursed or paid, showing the dire personal impact of poor expenses policies on the lives of UK employees.

The independent research* has also shown over half of UK workers (51%) have had to put expenses on a personal credit card or go into their overdraft due to expenses, incurring personal debt in order to facilitate costs for the businesses they work for.

Nearly a third (32%) of UK workers have been unable to pay off the balance the same month due to their company expense policy, leading to unnecessary debt.

Compounding the problem, more than 1/5 (21%) UK employees have to wait longer than a month for expenses to be repaid. Over two thirds (69%) of workers consider being left out of pocket by their employer unfair or very unfair.

As a worrying consequence, nearly 1 in 6 employees (15%) stated they would profit from business expenses if they could get away with it. In addition, over 1 in 10 (10%) workers would spend more than they normally would to make a company expense worthwhile if they could get away with it.

“This research had some frankly shocking findings highlighting the scale of the expenses charade in the UK,” concluded Johnny Vowles, CEO of Expend. “It’s simply unacceptable that workers have to borrow money from family and friends or go into their credit cards or overdrafts to float their company’s expenses. We certainly don’t think businesses do it intentionally as a cash flow solution, but the problem does exist. Organisations need to be able to control expenses so that employees that need to pay out for company costs either have the money available to do so or at least are reimbursed as soon as possible. Businesses with lax expense policies can also benefit from technology to harness greater control over expenses, which can have a significant impact on a company’s financial planning.”

Nearly 1 in 5 employees (19%) would feel more satisfied and motivated if expenses did not come out of their pocket, while 1 in 6 (16%) would welcome better technology that stopped them being out of pocket. Over 1 in 5 (22%) employees would also welcome technology to improve the time spent on filing company expenses.

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Should you reward high performance and if so how?

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Should you reward high performance and if so how? 1

By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four 

In our last article – “what do high-performing teams mean?” we identified four enabling conditions – a compelling direction, high accountability, clear expectations and trusting relationships to be the basic platform for high performing teams.  But work teams do not operate in an organisational vacuum. Organisational performance is the key interest for managers and executives; however, organizations only perform efficiently if individuals feel satisfied and committed as well as cooperate with colleagues.

Features of the organisational context, such as the reward system, specific incentives and career development opportunities as well as the coaching and feedback behaviours of team leaders, can have.

a seismic impact on the outcome of the team.  In today’s team-centric workplace, how do you recognise employees’ contributions to team success in the most effective way?

Individual vs. team reward

The problem is that group tasks are usually a mix of group and individual interests, a mixture of cooperative and competitive incentives.  Therefore, is team recognition better? Or is it best to reward individual contributors?

When you reward individuals for their hard work and for achieving results, you incentivise them to keep up the good work.  This recognition can, in turn, influence others to improve their performance.  However, rewarding individuals may create a more competitive environment, potentially undermining any efforts to establish or maintain a collaborative culture within the organisation.

Through a meta-analysis of 30 studies involving more than 7,000 teams, Garbers and Konradt (2014) found that team-based rewards yield moderate positive effects on team performance.  Recognising an entire team encourages greater camaraderie and when people are motivated to work harder for the good of the team, it often results in higher performance.  Moreover, it demonstrates to the team that others in their organisation (specifically, those who designed the reward system and administer it) care enough about a team’s performance that they are willing to expend organisational resources to recognise what it accomplishes.  Effective team rewards should elicit and reinforce collaboration among members as they work together to achieve compelling team purposes.  Recognition for good team performance encourages members to think of “us” rather than “me” and goes a long way in helping to sustain collective motivation.

Both individual and team-based recognition have their pros and cons.  So, what would be a compromise solution? A third option is offering a hybrid recognition program.

By simultaneously rewarding group and individual achievement, you can motivate everyone to work hard toward achieving the team’s goals.  At the same time, you also recognise individual team members who go the extra mile.  These are the people who make outstanding contributions to the team’s overall performance. The work they do is worthy of special recognition and should be rewarded appropriately.  When a team receives something that members collectively value, it becomes more likely that members will do again whatever it is that they did before.

The consequences of excellent team performance, therefore, must be something that team members themselves view as favourable.  Even if leaders think that putting a team’s name on the company intranet is kudos for high performance, that listing will have no effect if team members view it as silly, embarrassing or meaningless.

One kind of recognition that almost everyone cares about is money.  At least in Western societies, people have learned well to “follow the money” if they want to understand what is going on or what is most valued by those in charge.  Although compliments and nonmonetary rewards can go a long way in reinforcing team excellence, they cannot go all the way.  At some point, people want to see some cash—or at least feel they have a piece of the financial action.  What factors do you need to consider when designing your rewards strategy?

Equitable v’s equal

The evidence suggests that equitably distributed rewards are more effective than equally distributed rewards in

Matthew Emerson

Matthew Emerson

affecting team performance.  So, for example, the practice of distributing the same bonus to all team members at the end of the financial year, while it might be easier to do, may yield weaker effects on future performance.  Because fairness violations are processed more emotionally than rationally, even nominal rewards for team performance have implications for fairness perception and must be managed.

Communicate effectively

Communicate how you will distribute rewards: if you want to value individual contributions, you will need to define and say what the indicators of performance are (e.g., the amount of responsibility, hours worked, individual outcomes).  In other words, use equitable pay and be meritocratic.  Giving employees “voice” is an important first step of rewards fairness.  Objectives and performance should be measured among individuals, so that you can show what each team member has done and what they each receive as a reward.

Consistency is key

Finally, we encourage team leaders to make sure they use fair decision-making criteria when they are deciding on who should receive recognition.  Team members need to trust that you are recognising team members who make valuable contributions.  Distributing formal recognition based on arbitrary factors, or simply rewarding “teacher’s pets,” may compromise the positive (and exacerbate the negative) changes found in our research.  Many employees report feeling undervalued at the end of a project.  These less favoured members are usually separated from the favourable team members due to hierarchy or departmental lines.

Conclusion

Team-based rewards have both potential benefits and drawbacks for an organization, especially in the context of team trust. While they can be successful in highly interdependent team environments when reward measurements are fair and clear, they can also result in motivational loss, competitive behaviour and feelings of discomfort by team members who are reluctant to determine each other’s pay when such preconditions are not in place.  It is important for managers to take these dynamics into account when designing a team-based rewards program and remember that there is not a one size fits all approach.

About Author:

Matthew Emerson is the Founder and Managing Director of Blackmore Four, an Essex based management consultancy working with leaders of ambitious businesses to achieve outstanding performance through periods of growth or significant change.

Starting his career at Ford Motor Company, Matthew has developed his expertise in Organisational Effectiveness in key senior HR, Organisational Development and Talent roles, predominantly in Financial Services (Credit Suisse, Barclays and DBS) and most recently as the Group Head of Talent and Performance at UBS AG.

Having worked in and across Asia for six years as well as having ‘global’ responsibility in a number of his roles, Matthew has an appreciation of international and multi-cultural working environments.  He also has a multi-sector perspective, having worked with organisations in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education and Technology.

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Asian shares near record highs as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes

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Asian shares near record highs as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes 2

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares climbed to near all-time highs on Monday as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and delays in vaccine supplies were eclipsed by optimism of a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan to help revive the U.S. economy.

Sentiment in the region was also boosted by a report that China had surpassed the United States to be the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020 with $163 billion in inflows.

Futures markets also pointed to firmer starts elsewhere. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.37%, futures for eurostoxx 50 as well as London’s FTSE were up 0.3% each while those for Germany’s DAX added 0.4%.

“The FDI story has definitely lifted China and its near neighbours today, blowing an economic recovery tailwind into geographically adjacent markets,” said OANDA’s Singapore-based market analyst Jeffery Halley.

“Looking ahead, equities will find more meaningful reactions from the progress or not of the Biden stimulus package, and the level of dovishness displayed by the Federal Reserve at their FOMC meeting this week.”

Global equity markets have scaled record highs in recent days on bets COVID-19 vaccines will start to reduce the infection rates worldwide and on a stronger U.S. economic recovery under President Joe Biden.

Still, investors are also wary about towering valuations amid questions over the efficiency of the vaccines in curbing the pandemic and as U.S.lawmakers continue to debate a coronavirus aid package.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose to 726.46, within kissing distance of last week’s record high of 727.31.

The benchmark is up nearly 9% so far in January, on track for its fourth straight monthly rise.

Japan’s Nikkei rebounded from falls in early trading to be up 0.7%.

Australian shares added 0.4% after the country’s drug regulator approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a phased rollout likely late next month.

Chinese shares rose, with the blue-chip CSI300 index up 1.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leapt nearly 2% led by technology stocks.

All eyes are on Washington DC as U.S. lawmakers agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority even as they lock horns over the size of the U.S. pandemic relief package.

Financial markets have been eyeing a massive package though disagreements have meant months of indecision in a country suffering more than 175,000 COVID-19 cases a day with millions out of work.

Global COVID-19 cases are inching towards 100 million with more than 2 million dead.

Hong Kong locked down an area of the Kowloon peninsula on Saturday, the first such measure the city has taken since the pandemic began.

Reports the new UK COVID variant was not only highly infectious but perhaps more deadly than the original strain also added to worries.

In the European Union, political leaders expressed widespread dismay over a hold-up by AstraZeneca and Pfizer Inc in delivering promised doses, with Italy’s prime minister lashing out at the vaccine suppliers, saying delays amounted to a serious breach of contractual obligations.

On Friday, the Dow fell 0.57%, the S&P 500 lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq added 0.09%. The three main U.S. indexes closed higher for the week, with the Nasdaq up over 4%.

Jefferies analysts said U.S. stock markets looked overvalued though they still remained bullish.

“For the stock market to have a real nasty unwind, rather than just a bull market correction, there needs to be a catalyst,” analyst Christopher Wood said.

“That means either an economic downturn or a material tightening in Fed policy,” Wood said, adding neither was likely to occur in a hurry.

In currencies, major pairs were trapped in a tight range as markets awaited the Fed’s Wednesday meeting.

The dollar index eased to 90.073, with the euro at $1.2181, while sterling was last a tad firmer at $1.3721.

The Japanese yen was a shade weaker at 103.69 per dollar.

In commodities, Brent gave up early losses to be last flat at $55.41 a barrel and U.S. crude rose 3 cents to $52.30.

Gold was flat at $1,852.9 an ounce.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong)

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Dollar pauses its decline on fresh virus worries

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Dollar pauses its decline on fresh virus worries 3

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar stabilised on Monday after a recent decline as fresh worries about the coronavirus and the global economy prompted investors to hang on to the safe-haven currency.

But analysts said the dollar could resume its fall if the U.S. Federal Reserve reaffirms its commitment to a highly accommodative monetary policy at its rate meeting later this week — as widely expected.

“I don’t think the Fed has any incentives to curtail its stimulus at this point, even though some market players may try to read between the lines for any signs of tapering in stimulus,” said Kazushige Kaida, head of FX sales at State Street Bank’s Tokyo Branch.

“I think the dollar is staying in a downtrend even though it is marking time for now,” he said.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal he has no plan to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon when the central bank concludes its policy review on Wednesday.

The dollar index stood at 90.172, flat on the day. It bounced back on Friday after hitting 90.043 on Thursday, last week’s lowest level.

Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as stringent lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry hard while UK data showed British retailers struggled to recover in December.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said on Friday there was evidence a new variant of COVID-19 discovered late last year could be associated with higher mortality, while problems in some vaccine roll-outs also weighed on sentiment.

Downbeat coronavirus news overshadowed some upbeat U.S. data, including a surge in manufacturing and an unexpected jump in existing home sales.

Bets against the dollar have become overcrowded, analysts also said, with U.S. data on Friday showing net dollar short positions swelling to the largest since May 2011.

The euro was little changed at $1.2174 , taking a pause after a 0.8% gain last week.

The common currency is capped in part by signs of political instability in Rome, which has also driven Italian bond yields higher. The yield spread between Italian and German bonds hit its highest since November on Friday.

Italy’s main ruling parties on Friday flagged snap elections as the only way out of its political impasse, if Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte fails to drum up a parliamentary majority after scraping through a confidence vote.

The situation in Italy demonstrates the widespread risks of political instability from popular discontent as communities grow weary of the pandemic, some analysts said.

“The stock markets’ rally during this pandemic is completely dependent on fiscal expansion and debt monetisation by central banks,” said Makoto Noji, chief currency strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities. “Political instability could delay fiscal measures. The year 2021 will not be the same as 2020.”

In Washington, the honeymoon after Joe Biden’s inauguration as President last week means investors are hopeful that at least a part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan will come through fairly soon.

The second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump expected early next month could complicate his efforts.

Elsewhere, the British pound held firm at $1.3684, not far off a 2-1/2-year high of $1.3745 touched on Thursday thanks in part to Britain’s lead in COVID-19 vaccinations.

Against the yen, the dollar was flat at 103.76 yen.

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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