In a few weeks from now, I would be in a senior position and would be handling a few activities of the team directly. The concern is not workplace per se, but it is more of dealing with money with my teammates.

Situation 1

Here in India, a few clients provide entertainment fund to their team members. This can be used in any form, to watch movies, spend a day at a resort, involve in team building activities or have a good meal at a restaurant etc. afaik, the cheque/bill is paid by one of the team members, usually the one in the senior position and it is presented to the appropriate department for reimbursement. This might take time based on how quick the request gets approved or how happy the client is with our work. Usually, the client is billed for this along with the regular work billing.

Situation 2

Sometimes, for small outings, one of the team members pays for it and later a mail is sent to everyone regarding the amount that needs to be repaid.

In both the scenarios, it is usually the senior member who pays the amount. I have observed that these senior members are not really happy paying it from their pocket, every single time. The reason could be anywhere from the fact that their liquid cash is being used albeit Credit/Debit card, or the reimbursement process could be slow and they need to follow it up, or the team members do not return the money even after 'gentle reminders'. Infact, when the amount is small, it seems odd enough to even send such 'gentle reminders'. And not everyone uses an envelope to return the amount, sometimes there would be coin money too that makes one a little embarrassed while receiving it.

Question :

Since I have seen how my seniors were uncomfortable in these scenarios, I am presuming that I would be encountering the same. None of my seniors tried to solve these kind of issues. Are they trivial enough not to be solved? Or should I try to find a solution to these existing ones which no one wants to address? If yes, how should I ensure that burden would not be only on me?

4 Answers 4


In many working cultures it is traditional that when a group of coworkers goes out to eat, the most senior person picks up the check and seeks reimbursement afterwards. The reasoning behind this is quite simple: as the most senior person, they can be assumed to have the highest salary and therefore they are best able to absorb the costs.

Obviously, not everyone will be happy with such a tradition. Even if they do have the highest salary (which is not a guarantee, just an assumption), it's likely that the impact on their finances is not negligible. There are alternatives, though they can be culturally difficult as well.

One option would be to have everyone pay for their own meal directly or split the bill evenly when the time comes to pay. For the purpose of this question they are functionally equal, but they places a large burden on the staff of the establishment where the event takes place, will take a long time to complete and can be a burden to the other clients of the establishment.

Another option is to collect money from everyone who will be attending beforehand but this can be culturally unacceptable. It also assumes that everyone knows beforehand roughly how much their meal will cost, which is often not the case. This option only really works if the prices for the event are negotiated up-front, which usually means limiting the menu options for the event, posing its own set of difficulties.

Personally, I don't think there is a solution that solves all of the potential issues. No matter how things are dealt with, the reality is that there will always be some discomfort. As a senior member, you have some choice in the matter as you can choose from the available options. Which one is the best will depend on your own situation and the situation of those who are coming to the event.


For the situation 1 a solution would be to issue a company credit card to senior members. They would still have to submit the expense for reimbursement to get the card paid but the grace period should allow them to avoid having to spend their own money.

The card could even simplify the reimbursement process if company is also receiving the statements. It would also be useful for other business related expenses like travel.

Of course applicability of this depends on ability to pay by card for the expenses and willingness of the company to have the card issued.

In my previous job every employee could have company credit card to use for business expenses and managers were using those cards to pay for team events.


Regarding Situation 1: It's understandable that people don't want to pay out for entertainment and then wait weeks for the money back (although why it's coming out of their pockets and not the company pockets, I don't know). Whilst there's no way around this, just because your colleagues are uncomfortable in these scenarios, doesn't mean you will be too.

Regarding Situation 2: Can you ask people to transfer the money beforehand so that you're not out of pocket? It's pretty common elsewhere to gather the money first. As @Robin pointed out, it means the bill's settled BEFORE the event and you won't have to chase people up.

Some people can be funny with money. So whilst your colleagues begrudge paying upfront and then reclaiming what's owed through gentle reminders... you're going in expecting this to happen. As I said earlier, just because your colleagues are uncomfortable in these scenarios, doesn't mean you will (or need to) be.


Bank transfers are easy these days, you can even use your phone and scan a QR code to easily transfer money between accounts.

But I would arrange the payments before hand if it is a big/ expensive activity. That way you are also sure that everybody that paid will actually be there and you won't end up making reservations for too many people et cetera.

  • 1
    I don't know why this was downvoted. Surely the second paragraph is your answer? Ask people to transfer the money BEFORE the activity. Nobody's out of pocket then. Are bank transfers not common in India?
    – dvniel
    Mar 13, 2018 at 9:04
  • 2
    I was not the initial downvoter but I am downvoting this answer now because this approach of "we won't let you in if you don't pay up" would not at all work in the Indian culture. Eastern culture is not as business-minded as the Western culture, and human relationships are considered much more important there.
    – Masked Man
    Mar 13, 2018 at 12:07

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