Age of Mad Men is gone as employers spend half as much on worker expenses compared to 50 years ago

There’s no more lofty living on the company’s buck a la Don Draper as more businesses have slimmed down their expense accounts

Age of Mad Men is gone as employers spend half as much on worker expenses compared to 50 years ago

Photo credit: Mad Men, AMC

It’s been three years since the cult classic Mad Men shone a light on the equally prestigious and hostile working environment of the 1960s. Every week, millions of viewers sat down to dream themselves away to a time when employees could take clients out for lavish dinners, drinks and somewhat seedy entertainment. However, new findings confirm that the Mad Men era is over.

Quizzing 2,057 workers aged between 25 and 65 and retired seniors over 65, Barclaycard, the global payment business, discovered merely 10% chalk up client dinners on expenses forms today – dropping from 34%, 27% and 28% in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s respectively. And when it comes to drinks there’s even less appetite, given 7% stick them on company tabs in contrast to 27% in the 80s.

Moreover, jetting staff around the globe has lost its glam. For corporate air travel is now claimed by only 12% of workers – down from 19% in the 1990s and 2000s – and a quarter write hotel rooms on expenses forms compared to 48% back then.

However, stiff corporate coffers aren’t the only reasons why fewer workers ask their employers to dosh out for their expenses – the fact that the process of claiming their money back has transformed may have something to do with it too. Of the people polled, 36% said the claiming process has become more formal and 32% fewer expenses are seen acceptable to claim back, expenses options shortening. Other changes include the introduction of company credit cards and many businesses doing away with a petty cash drawer. Additionally, more 63% of modern employees today file their own claims compared to 38% in the 60s and only 17% today bug their personal assistants to handle it compared to 21% 50 years ago.

Commenting on the results Marc Pettican, managing director of Barclaycard Commercial Payments, said: “Business spending has changed dramatically since Barclaycard introduced the first corporate credit card back in 1968. This was a major moment in the development of UK companies and how they managed because suddenly an entire generation of workers gained more flexibility in their day-to-day working lives.

“Fast forward 50 years and companies have become more complex and diverse, with very different needs. This is reflected in the range of expenses and the methods of claiming them that were popular then and now.”

Indeed, images of workers living out on the company’s dime certainly seems as antiquated as Don Draper’s treatment of women. 

Angus Shaw
Angus Shaw

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