How Much Time Is Being Wasted By Employees Surfing The Internet?

How Much Time Is Being Wasted By Employees Surfing The Internet?

If you are like most busy executives then your daily task list if pretty long. In the midst of your busy schedule, your gut is telling you that there are a few yellow flags in your company that needs some attention. Somethings just don’t feel right. You cross your fingers that you have enough time to get all your tasks done every day, you pretend your food actually is as healthy as it claims to be, and you often turn a blind eye to employees goofing off on the clock. When it comes down to it though, some of those distractions become too damaging to your business to ignore, and something needs to be done.

What exactly are your employees up to?

You may have an inkling that employees are wasting time, but with their survey of 750 workers, Salary.com clarified that it’s more than just a certainty, it’s an epidemic. In 2012, 64% of respondents admitted to wasting time on a daily basis; in 2013, that number rose to 70%, and in 2014 it skyrocketed to 89%. Of all the workers surveyed, a third claimed to waste 30 minutes or less per day -- while nearly three-fifths of all the respondents admitted it was an hour or more.

Some business owners may dwell on how employees waste time, but it’s far less common that they actually stop and consider why employees think wasting time is acceptable. Focusing on what they’re doing is about as useful as asking why the weeds in your garden are a specific shade of green. To minimize the ‘quick’ visits to Facebook and shopping ‘breaks’ on Amazon, you need to pull at the roots and ask why they’re happening in the first place. Most of the time the answer is fairly straightforward:

  • Employees believe ‘short’ recesses actually make them more productive
  • They’re bored or disinterested in their work
  • There’s no incentive to work harder
  • The work is too easy and they find no satisfaction in completing it

It's tempting to blame social media and the internet, but where employees waste time ultimately matters very little. Twenty years ago, workers were on the phone with friends, taking excessive smoke breaks, and doodling at their desks. So, at least for today, let's put an end to the blame game and get to the crux of the problem: How far is too far?

What should you do if you feel employees are wasting time

If your office isn’t meeting goals, it’s time to stop turning a blind eye to costly distractions. Let’s say a business acquired more new clients this week than it did last week, but saw a dip in revenues -- the owner can’t exactly blame Mark Zuckerberg. In the owner’s employees’ eyes, the organization has ‘reached new heights,’ and the staff is celebrating by taking a load off. Before scolding employees for slumping profits and wasting time, try some combination of the following tactics to avoid a ‘Me vs. Them’ work environment:

Define goals/expectations
You’ll notice that with clear objectives, every one of the items in the last section’s list of bullet points becomes obsolete. Employees will have quantifiable metrics, incentives, and challenges to make the value of their work greater than that of watching cat videos on YouTube.

Reform your onboarding process
Start them off right. Make sure new employees understand you’re not running a sweatshop and some browsing is allowed, but if weekly goals are not met their browsing privileges may be restricted by a manager. Whereas the previous point focuses on exactly what the periodic expectations are, your onboarding process should introduce what the procedures will be for setting and achieving these goals in their new position. Create an IT Acceptable Use Policy document. We can help you create one with our ideas as a starting point. Review this document with your employees and get their signature of acknowledgement.

Create an Engaged Culture
When employees are engaged in the mission and vision of the company then they start firing in all cylinders. Read how to create an engaged culture blog.

Lead by example
Another survey of workplace productivity by Paychex discovered managers are often more distracted than their employees, with some admitting that approximately half their day is wasted on browsing unrelated to work. Instead, set the pace for your office, because a productive manager is far more likely to have employees who are focused on their work.

Use technology
What kind of IT provider would we be if we didn’t mention technology solutions at least once in our blog? There are tons of solutions for helping your employees stay on task, such as URL filtering, which easily blocks websites that have no place in the office, and limits the use of those you want to regulate rather than eliminate altogether. Another option is software that tracks which websites and applications workers are spending their time on, allowing you to digest the data and set acceptable limits on distractions.

As a business owner, you must understand the importance of keeping your ear to the ground of your office. Regardless of whether you achieve that via IT solutions or via HR processes, try to appreciate that creating profit and realizing growth is a holistic consideration for any organization. When you get in touch with Capstone IT, you’re not just getting a trusted managed services provider; you’re getting a business partner eager to partner in your success. So why not call today?


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