Article: Online shopping @ work: How employers react when employees shop

Employee Relations

Online shopping @ work: How employers react when employees shop

A CareerBuilder survey proves the increasing online shopping activity at work, and also shows how employers are reacting.
Online shopping @ work: How employers react when employees shop

With e-commerce websites going all out to woo customers with discounts and consistent advertisements, the phenomenon of employees spending their time at work to shop online has gone up as well. A recent survey by CareerBuilder sought to understand the extent of this trend, and made an attempt to establish how employers are reacting to the same. 

CareerBuilder’s annual Cyber Monday survey was conducted online between August 11 and September 7, 2016 by Harris Poll. The respondents included 3,133 full-time (not self-employed; non-government) employees and 2,379 HR professionals and Hiring Managers in the US. The survey was done keeping in mind the approaching holiday season in the country. Here are some of the important findings of the same:

The Employees:

  • 53% of the employees said that they spend at least some work time holiday shopping on the internet, up from 50% last year.
  • Of the employees who spent time online shopping during work, 43% admitted to spending an hour or more (in comparison to 42% last year).
  • 49% of the workers said that they used their personal smart-phone or tablet to shop, as compared to 42% last year and 27% in 2014.
  • Industry wise, employees of IT and financial services were shopping more as compared to others. The percentage of employees, industry-wise, who were shopping online during work is as follows: IT (68%), Financial services (65%), Sales (63%), Leisure & Hospitality (54%), Health Care (53%), Transportation (42%), Retail (42%), Manufacturing (40%).


The Employers:

  • 11% of the employers said that they have fired someone for holiday shopping during working hours (down from 12% last year).
  • 35% of the employers admitted to monitoring the websites their employees visit – down 1% from last year, whereas, 54% of the employers said that their organisation blocks certain websites at work – down 2% from last year.
  • 52% of the employers have restricted their employees from posting on social media on behalf of the organisation, and 29% have made their policies stricter for the same during this year.
  • 24% replied that they have fired someone for using the internet for non-work activity, and 17% admitted to having fired someone over a post on social media (down from 28% and 18% from last year, respectively).
  • 33% of the employers believe that even if an employee’s performance is unaffected, it is a matter of concern if their employees spend time on non-work related emails and websites. 

Employers realize that you are going to be tempted by the flurry of notifications regarding discounts throughout the day... But it's up to you to self-police yourself and schedule your time to make sure you're getting your job done and productivity isn't hurt while you save money shopping online." said Rosemary Haefner, CHRO, CareerBuilder.

Although the survey has a sample size based in the USA, the findings could possibly reflect trends from all over the world, especially for a developing country like India, where online shopping activity is witnessing a double digit growth every year. Furthermore, concepts like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, otherwise a trademark of consumer-driven western markets, are making in-roads in India as well, albeit under different labels. Attractive and potentially cash-saving deals and discounts are bombarded to employees not only on the websites they visit, but also the feed of their own social media accounts, which makes one prone to browse the deals on offer. The survey proves the increasing shopping activity that employees are pursuing in at work, and also shows how employers are reacting to the same. 

It would be naive to assume that such distractions do not have an impact on one’s efficiency and productivity, and also to assume that you can spend hours browsing through endless catalogues during your working hours, and get away with it. CareerBuilder also offers some simple yet practical advice to help you reduce the distractions. Employees and employers need to come together to find a solution to foster a culture that helps wards off such challenges, and decide the course of action that suits them the best: block, moderate, or ignore. 

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Topics: Employee Relations, Employee Engagement

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