How Employee Cyber Shopping Can Affect the Enterprise

By: Larry Loeb| - Leave a comment

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CIOs were surveyed by Robert Half Technology in 2015 about their employees doing cyber shopping while at work. Responses came from more than 2,500 CIOs across 25 metropolitan areas, as well as more than 1,000 U.S. workers over 18 years of age.

Don’t Block, Monitor

Just 25 percent of those CIOs surveyed said that online shopping sites had been blocked in the workplace (one way to deal with employees’ tendency to shop online). Interestingly, that figure was down 8 percent from the number of firms blocking select websites in 2012.

Far more prevalent was the technique of monitoring any employee shopping that occurred, which allows management to asses particular situations as needed without lowering the morale of staff who, for example, may want to plan their holiday purchases during their lunch break. In this context, 48 percent of the CIO respondents said their companies allowed access to shopping sites, but monitored the resultant activity for excessive use while on the job.

Still, employees may carry remorse over this sort of activity while working. The survey found 30 percent of professionals felt “guilty” about their shopping activity during work hours. Some of those bad feelings may be directed at other employees, as well. Twenty-eight percent of the respondents believed coworkers “are not pulling their weight” when using company time to carry out personal interests rather than work-related activities.

Although this pressure can help regulate the behavior of shopping-inclined staff, monitoring internet usage at the management level can help curb animosity among employees while addressing the dispute.

How to React

The survey also shed some light on the assumption that a manager would automatically penalize an employee once they were identified as shopping during a critical point of work time. Of the 24 percent of total workers who admitted to being caught shopping by their manager, only 15 percent were reprimanded by them.

Instead, 31 percent of these “caught” workers who were surveyed said their managers had incited a positive net effect on performance by “talking shop” with the employee and dealing with any underlying work issues through gentler conversation. If an employee’s productivity increases after such an occurrence, the manager is seemingly doing something right. This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed, as nearly twice as many CIOs have chosen to exercise this positive managing path rather than block access entirely.

A Different View of Cyber Shopping

Moreover, some employees will go as far as to say a certain amount of online shopping can improve their overall efforts. The survey found 19 percent of the employees thought their productivity would actually increase if they did some shopping online at work because they wouldn’t have to take any out-of-office time in order to complete these errands, and would therefore be more available to the enterprise in the long term.

InformationWeek reports that comScore sees the biggest (and most profitable) day for online shopping will remain Cyber Monday — which carried $2.04 billion in online spending in 2014. In second place is Black Friday, which held $1.51 billion in associated spending. And with 17- and 26-percent growth from the previous year, respectively, IT should have no reason to suspect their workplace won’t take part.

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