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Build Your Career Office Life

Holiday Shopping at Work? Your Employer Might Not Like It

Holiday Shopping at Work? Your Employer Might Not Like It
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

While you might be tempted to cash in on some of the many Cyber Monday shopping deals while at work today, be aware that your employer is likely watching.

A new study from CareerBuilder revealed that even if it isn't hurting employees' performance, one-third of employers still care if workers are wasting time surfing nonrelated websites and checking personal emails.

The issue has become such a big problem, that 11 percent of employers have fired someone for holiday shopping at work.

To cut down on online shopping, 54 percent of employers block employees from accessing certain websites. [See Related Story: 10 Unique Businesses That Make Gift Giving Easier]

Overall, 53 percent of employees admit to spending at least some work time online holiday shopping, up 3 percent from last year. Of those workers, 43 percent said they spend at least an hour doing so.

"Employers realize that you are going to be tempted by the flurry of notifications regarding discounts throughout the day on Cyber Monday," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. "But it's up to you to self-police yourself and schedule your time to make sure you're getting your job done and productivity isn't hurt while you save money shopping online."

A separate study from Robert Half Technology found that many workers don't just limit their holiday shopping to their breaks. Sixty-four percent said they shop during lunch, while 43 percent said they have looked for bargains while bored working on other tasks. In addition, 35 percent have started shopping after searching online for something else, 8 percent have done so while on a conference call and 3 percent have been brazen enough to shop during an in-person meeting.

The Robert Half research found that only a small group of employees make sure they are putting in a full day, even if they are spending some time online shopping at work. Less than 15 percent of those surveyed said they have stayed late or worked from home in the evening in order to make up for their time shopping.

The problem some employees have in regards to online shopping at work is that they don't know whether their employer has any rules restricting it. The Robert Half study found that 55 percent of the workers surveyed 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."

The CareerBuilder study was based on surveys of 2,379 U.S.-based hiring and human resource managers and 3,133 U.S.-based full-time employees. The Robert Half research was based on surveys of more than 1,400 North American chief information officers and more than 1,400 North American workers who were employed in offices.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.