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One-Third of Workers Plan to Holiday Shop Online While at the Office, CareerBuilder Survey Reveals

shoesWorkers and employers are once again at odds — at least in some offices around the country. Cyber Monday, the National Retail Federation’s coined term for the first Monday after Thanksgiving, is predicted to be a busy day for office Internet use. Almost a third (32 percent) of workers plan to holiday shop online this season, up from 29 percent last year, according to CareerBuilder’s annual survey, which included more than 3,100 employees and 4,700 workers nationwide.

Happy Holidays?

As employers have reported they monitor their employees’ Internet and e-mail use, no “secure transactions” for that last-minute sweater purchase for Mom are really secure. As much as the holidays may seem a time of relaxation and leniency, many employers are not only monitoring employees’ Internet usage, but also tightening up their social media policies. According to the survey, 20 percent of employers have fired someone for using the Internet for non-work related activities. Five percent of employers have fired someone strictly for holiday shopping online at work.

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, advises workers to use their work resources in a way that respects company time. “The Internet provides fast and convenient access to virtually any resources you need, but you want to make sure you’re leveraging those resources during personal time that is allotted to you during the workday, such as your lunch hour,” said Haefner.

How Much Not-for-Work Happens at Work?

  • 58 percent of workers admitted they use the Internet for non-work related activities while at the office
  • 21 will typically spend one hour or more on personal Internet use while at work
  • Two-thirds of workers reported they typically send non-work related e-mails each day

Employers Fire Back

  • Half of employers (50 percent) block employees from accessing certain Web sites while at work
  • 32 percent of employers monitor e-mails and 16 percent monitor instant messaging
  • 8 percent have fired an employee for non-work related e-mails

“Nearly half of employers reported they monitor Internet and email use of employees. While employers will take into consideration the overall performance of the employee, smaller staffs and higher productivity demands may have them taking more notice of time spent on non-work related activities. This extends to all types of communications and activities,” said Haefner.

Social Media Usage — How Do Your Workers Stack Up?

As we know, the lines between our personal and professional lives have become as blurred as a happy little tree in a Bob Ross painting. Once-personal social networking sites are being frequented more and more at work. But just how often is company information overlapping with personal sites, and where on the Internet are workers posting company-related info, anyway? Well:

  • 61 percent of full-time workers reported they have a social networking profile
  • Among them: Half of workers (51 percent) spend time on their social networking page during the workday; 11 percent spend one hour or more
  • 25 percent include information about their employer in their communications on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace
  • 15 percent include company information on Twitter
  • 13 percent of workers with personal blogs say they blog about their companies
  • 13 percent of workers are “friends” with their boss on their social networking profile

Not Everyone’s Doing It

While it’s apparent that many workers are blending their social and professional networks and work and non-work “friends” (and possibly alerting their boss via status update about their massive hangover, for example), 22 percent of workers reported having separate social networking profiles for personal and business use. Do you?

Social Media: Embrace It or Up in Arms?

All of this TwitterFacebookBlogMySpace madness hasn’t come without repercussions — even if employees are off the clock. With the growth of social media has come growing sensitivity from employers over what employees are posting online.

  • 37 percent of employers have a policy on whether workers can communicate about the company on social media sites
  • 17 percent have implemented a stricter policy on employees communicating about the company on social media sites in the last year
  • 21 percent prohibit employees from communicating about the company at all
  • 13 percent have designated certain employees to post on behalf of the company
  • 16 percent monitor social networking profiles of employees, and 14 percent monitor blogs.

Your thoughts?

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.


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