Commentary

Personal Internet Surfing at Work Costs Companies Over $300 Billion a Year

Personal Internet Surfing at Work Costs Companies Over $300 Billion a Year

According to a new survey by America Online and Salary.com, summarized by Dan Malachowski, the average worker admits to wasting 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time. The survey indicates that employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect. Salary.com calculated that employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

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The biggest distraction is personal Internet use by 44.7% of the more than 10,000 people polled. Socializing with co-workers came in second at 23.4%. Conducting personal business, "spacing out," running errands, and making personal phone calls were the other popular time-wasting activities in the workplace.

 

Top Time-Wasting Activities

% of Respondents

1

 Surfing Internet (personal use)

44.7%

2

Socializing with co-workers

23.4%

3

Conducting personal business

6.8%

4

 Spacing out

3.9%

5

Running errands off-premises

3.1%

6

Making personal phone calls

2.3%

7

Applying for other jobs

1.3%

8

Planning personal events

1.0%

9

Arriving late / Leaving early

1.0%

10

Other

12.5%

Source: AOL/Salary.com, June 2005

Employees say they're not always to blame for this wasted time, however. 33.2% of respondents cited lack of work as their biggest reason for wasting time. 23.4% said they wasted time at work because they feel as if they are underpaid (if this applies to you, click on the Salary Wizard to find out what you are worth).

 

Top Time-Wasting Excuses

% of Respondents

1

 Don't have enough work to do

33.2%

2

 Underpaid for amount of work

23.4%

3

 Co-workers distract me

14.7%

4

 Not enough after-work time

12.0%

5

 Other

16.7%

Source: AOL/Salary.com, June 2005

According to a Salary.com follow-up survey of Human Resource managers, companies assume employees waste 0.94 hours per day, managers suspect that employees waste 1.6 hours per day, but employees admit to wasting 2.09 hours per day.  Salary.com's Senior Vice President Bill Coleman, says "To some bosses, that's a startling figure. Others, though, will view this extra wasted time that may well have a positive impact on the company's culture, work environment, and even business results."

The Older People Are, The Less Time They Waste At Work:

Year of Birth

Time Wasted Per Day

1930-1949

0.50 hrs.

1950-1959

0.68 hrs.

1960-1969

1.19 hrs.

1970-1979

1.61 hrs.

1980-1985

1.95 hrs.

Source: AOL/Salary.com, June 2005

The report concludes with The average yearly American salary is $39,795 per year - or $19.13 per hour. If the average worker wastes 1.15 hours more than employers suspect, per 8-hour work day, that adds up to $5,720 per year, per worker in wasted salary dollars. So with the American workforce 132 million (non-farm) employees strong, the total in lost salary dollars adds up to $759 billion per year.

More information about the study results is here at salary.com.

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