It’s a common occurrence in offices everywhere—you stroll by an employee’s desk and find them browsing the Internet 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 six most common forms of cyber-slacking are:
- Online shopping
- Chat rooms/instant messaging
- E-mail correspondence to personal contacts
- Online gambling
- Online stock trading
- Web browsing news and sports websites
In a study conducted by surfControl, a web-filtering software maker, it was revealed that if 1,000 employees engage in personal web surfing for only one hour a day it would cost that organization up to $35 million a year.
The most obvious way to combat cyber-slacking is to monitor Internet usage, but this can be tricky. This is why Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan suggests 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.
The Internet is a powerful tool for businesses, but it is also a vehicle for distraction and procrastination. Everyday software, such as e-mail and web browsers, provides a temptation for employees to shop for good deals, catch up on news or read about their favorite sports heroes. While you don’t need to necessarily be a tyrant about Internet usage, instituting some basic guidelines could end up saving your company a significant amount of money.
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @micarnegie.
Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles