More than half of workers shop online during work hours, survey finds

Thirty-five percent of employers monitor employees’ internet activity

Posted November 29, 2016

In the next few weeks workers will be tempted to peruse the internet for killer discounts, but they need to remember, the boss may be watching.

According to CareerBuilder’s annual Cyber Monday survey, more than half of workers (53 percent) say they spend at least some work time holiday shopping on the internet, up 3 percent from last year. Of this group, 43 percent spend an hour or more doing so, compared to 42 percent from last year.

Employers aren’t turning a blind eye to this. Eleven percent of employers say they’ve fired someone for holiday shopping 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.

IT leads other industries for online shopping

As mobile technology continues to have a growing presence in the workplace, more workers are using their gadgets to shop. Forty-nine percent of employees use their personal smart phones or tablets to shop, an increase from 42 percent last year and 27 percent in 2014.

Whether desktop or mobile, a higher percentage of workers in information technology and financial services industries online shop compared to those in other industries:

  • Information technology: 68 percent
  • Financial services: 65 percent
  • Sales: 63 percent
  • Leisure and hospitality: 54 percent
  • Health care: 53 percent
  • Transportation: 42 percent
  • Manufacturing: 40 percent
  • Retail: 42 percent

Employers aren’t ignoring employees’ internet activity

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).

Survey methodology
The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,379 hiring and human resource managers and 3,133 full-time employees ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between August 11 and September 7, 2016. Percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions. With pure probability samples of 2,379 and 3,133, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have sampling errors of +/- 2.01 and +/- 1.75 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

The SUPER adVISORThe SUPER adVISOR™ newsletter contains four pages dedicated to the HR manager and a corresponding four-page pullout dedicated to the needs of supervisors.


J. J. Keller's FREE HRClicks™ email newsletter brings quick-read human resources-related news right to your email inbox.

Sign up to receive HRClicks™.