You can buy all your gifts with a few clicks of the mouse … but should you?

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Here at The Work Buzz, we don’t judge. Nor do we lie. Therefore, when CareerBuilder’s new survey reports that 32 percent of workers plan to holiday shop online while on the job, we’re not shocked. That figure is up from last year’s 29 percent, by the way.

Believe it or not, you boss knows you’re shopping online, and for the most part he or she doesn’t care as long as you’re still doing your job. But don’t take advantage of your employer’s generosity. Nearly half of surveyed employers monitor their employees’ online activity, which includes e-mails and browsing. You don’t want to lose your job, well, ever, but especially not during gift-giving season, and especially not due to something as preventable as online shopping.


Of course, you and I both know you’re not just spending a few minutes buying Grandma a new toaster. You need to log in to one (or all) of your social networking sites to see what friends are up to. After all, the survey found that 61 percent of full-time workers have profiles. Here are other facts the survey discovered about workers with social networking profiles:

  • 51 percent spend time on their social networking page during the workday; 11 percent spend one hour or more.
  • 25 percent include information about their employer in their communications on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace; 15 percent include company information on Twitter; 13 percent of workers with personal blogs say they blog about their companies.
  • 13 percent of workers are “friends” with their boss on their social networking profile.
  • 22 percent of workers have separate social networking profiles for personal and business use.

Companies know that you’re out there talking about them, so many have implemented policies regarding this messaging:

  • 37 percent of employers have a policy on whether workers can communicate about the company on social media sites; 17 percent have implemented a stricter policy on employees communicating about the company on social media sites in the last year.
  • 21 percent prohibit employees from communicating about the company. Thirteen percent have designated certain employees to post on behalf of the company.
  • 16 percent monitor social networking profiles of employees and 14 percent monitor blogs.

Now, just because they know you’re doing these things doesn’t mean they’re OK with everything. They understand but they’ve still got a business to run. I mean, 58 percent of workers claim to spend some of their online time doing non-work activities, so that adds up to a lot of unproductive hours. So you’re probably not shocked that 20 percent of employers have fired someone for online activities not related to work. (And if you are shocked, stop reading this blog and get back to work!)

Other notable results:

  • 32 percent of employers monitor emails and 16 percent monitor instant messaging.
  • 8 percent have fired someone for non-work related emails.
  • 5 percent of employers have fired someone for holiday shopping online at work.

So the moral of the story? Your boss understands everyone’s a little distracted during the next few weeks of work, and if you spend a few minutes adding a new video game to your shopping cart, you’re probably fine. But don’t take advantage of your boss’ generosity. You still have to get work done and you can take care of your shopping once you get home or during your lunch hour.

  1. This is especially true in an office where a majority of the staff is from Gen Y, myself included. Gmail chat is up and running along w/ email and a quick check of what your peeps are doing at work on Facebook won’t hurt. I have bought a few items online before but I made sure that whatever online stuff I had to do unrelated to work was short and to the point. Or I would do some preliminary searching at work and finish up more in depth at home. Like the article said, your boss does it too but unlike him you can’t parlay and you can’t act as if the company computer is your personal computer. Be sensible and cautious & you should be fine.

  2. I was fired from a good job because I used the internet. The org. had a zero personal usage policy of all business equip. including phones, copier, fax and computer. They were looking to fire me and I had signed an employee agreement saying I understood the policy. When I said everyone uses the computer at work for personal web surfing or e-mail the HR manager said she doesnt and is too busy to have any time to do that. She said the occaisional e-mail to let ones family know one will be home late is acceptable but not spending hours a day, altho I had nothing else to do which is why they wanted to get rid of me in the 1st. place I was not able to find work to do and no-one delegates work anymore. I worked for the State and they monitor usage, printed a log of all the websites i’d clicked on in the last 2 weeks they also could access my personal e-mail because every click of my keyboard was recorded. In this particular org. one was not allowed to use the computer during breaks either, zero usage – tho I do feel I am the only person ever to be fired there because of that and of course should any employer do a ref. check it won’t come out good. I have to lie on all my job applications that I just quit. I get personal emails from people who are at work all the time but if a co. wants to be rid of you that’s a easy way to do it since you violated a policy esp. if your evaluations were good.

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