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Surveys find employees are shopping at work on Cyber Monday, but most will try to hide it

Take a look around at your office right now. Are your colleagues actually banging out a report or are they bargain hunting?

According to a new survey of North American workers by staffing firm Robert Half Technology, there’s a good chance it’s the latter. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said they typically shop while in the office on Cyber Monday. And bosses may be the last to know about their staff members’ browsing habits: Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of employees admit to minimizing their screens when a manager approaches during an online shopping session.

As for when workers are adding to their carts throughout the work day, results varied:

  • 64 percent say they have used their lunch break to track down deals
  • 43 percent say they have surfed for bargains while bored on the job
  • 35 percent say they were lured to shop while searching online for something else

For some, bargain-hunting is a group sport and potential distraction:

  • 17 percent of respondents say they have shopped with coworkers
  • 8 percent confess to shopping while on conference calls and 3 percent during in-person meetings

Most-used shopping devices

Nearly one in four (39 percent) workers surveyed say they use a work-issued computer or device to shop online; another 17 percent utilize a personal mobile device. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) shop with both.

Distracted by deals

More than one in three (36 percent) workers say they have taken a day off to do some holiday shopping. And for those who bargain-hunt during business hours, 13 percent say they have had to work late or from home in the evening to make up for time shopping.

Employers aren’t ignoring employees’ online shopping activity

Employers aren’t turning a blind eye to this. According to CareerBuilder’s annual Cyber Monday survey, eleven percent of employers say they’ve fired someone for holiday shopping on the Internet while at work (compared to 12 percent last year), and 54 percent say their organization blocks employees from accessing certain websites from work—down 2 percent from last year.

In CareerBuilder’s survey, a third of employers (33 percent) said that even if performance isn’t affected, they care if employees spend time on non-work related emails and websites. With the ever-looming distractions offered by technology, many have taken stronger measures to prevent loss of productivity this year, including:

  • 35 percent of employers say their organization monitors the sites employees visit, compared to 36 percent last year.
  • 52 percent of employers restrict employees from posting on behalf of the company on social media, and 29 percent have adopted stricter policies in this regard over the past year (compared to 55 and 32 percent last year, respectively).
  • 24 percent say they’ve fired someone for using the Internet for non-work related activity, and 17 percent have fired an employee for something they posted on social media (compared to 28 and 18 percent last year, respectively).

Establish and reinforce your online security policies

In a separate survey of CIOs by Robert Half Technology, only one-third say their companies block employee access to online shopping; 65 percent either allow unrestricted access or allow access but monitor for excessive use. However, most employees are unaware of their firm’s stance: 55 percent of workers say they have not been provided with company information or training around IT security or online shopping policies.

“Employees cannot adhere to policies they aren’t aware of, so technology managers should continually reinforce their online shopping and Internet security policies,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Right before the holiday shopping rush is an especially good time to discuss expectations and best practices with your teams.”

Editor’s picks:

New healthcare cybersecurity report exposes risk of attacks through social engineering

Are you still complacent about mobile security risks?

Secrecy in the age of social media: six ways to keep sensitive practice information offline









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