It is all too common to stroll by an employee's desk and catch him/her browsing the Internet -- obviously, for personal use rather than business-related research. In fact, the American Management Association (AMA) discovered that 68% of businesses lose money and time on employees who are "cyber-slacking."
Cyber-slacking is the use of work-provided internet access for personal enjoyment while maintaining the appearance of being productive. The trouble with cyber-slacking, unfortunately, is that it comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Worse yet, it is typically carried out on software that businesses rely on, such as e-mail and web browsers.
The five most common forms of cyber-slacking are:
- Chat rooms/instant messaging
- E-mail correspondence to personal contacts
- Online gambling
- Online stock trading
- Web browsing, primarily to news and sports websites
How much is cyber-slacking costing your business?
Of course, not all cyber-slacking starts intentionally. Often enough, employees log online to look up something business-related, but, through a series of "wiki moments," they find themselves viewing websites that stopped being work related several clicks ago. However, the bottom line is that cyber-slacking is nothing but costly.
Combat cyber-slacking effectively
The most obvious way to combat cyber-slacking is to monitor Internet usage, but this can be tricky. This is why we suggest including Internet usage policies in your employee handbook. These policies should define which types of websites are considered inappropriate as well as address excessive Internet usage. Furthermore, the consequences for violating these policies should be clearly outlined. Consequences can range from docked pay to having computer privileges restricted.
If you do choose to monitor employee computer usage, be sure to consult with an attorney in order to avoid any legal risks relating to rights to privacy.
As powerful a tool as the Internet is, especially for businesses, it is also a vehicle for distraction and procrastination. Everyday software, such as e-mail clients and web browsers, provide a temptation for employees to catch up on news or read about their favorite sports heroes.
In order to effectively combat cyber-slacking, employers should take preventative measures by writing Internet usage policies into their employee handbooks. And, instead of monitoring the sites employees visit, employers should evaluate how much time employees spend online in order to better address concerns about productivity.
For more information about employee productivity, contact Carrie Cox via email, or Cindy McSwain using her information below.
Senior Vice President
Cindy McSwain leads AGH’s outsourcing services group. Her team provides payroll, accounting, funds disbursement, controller, and other financial outsourcing services to numerous clients throughout the U.S. Prior to directing the outsourcing group, Cindy served AGH’s audit clients for 10 years, working with a wide range of middle-market, closely held and family-owned clients.
Her current clients cross many industry sectors, including manufacturing, distribution, restaurants, retailers, medical, and not-for-profit. She has participated in numerous SEC filings and public registrations and has experience in mergers and acquisitions. Cindy is a certified public accountant and a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.
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