Bosses Do the Most Online Shopping at Work

By Kathy Gurchiek Dec 18, 2014
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Employees who do their Christmas shopping online during work are more likely to be members of senior management, managers, supervisors and team leaders—not entry-level or professional staff members, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder.

The findings are from a Harris Poll conducted in August and September 2014 with 2,203 hiring and HR professionals and 3,103 full-time workers in the private sector.

Fewer U.S. workers were planning to do their Christmas shopping online during work hours in 2014 compared to 2013 (47 percent vs. 54 percent, respectively). Among those with such plans, 58 percent said they intend to spend less than one hour on the task. Another 30 percent said they will spend between one and three hours, 6 percent plan to spend between three and five hours, and another 6 percent estimate they will spend five or more hours filling their online shopping cart.

Slightly more than one-fourth (27 percent) of those shopping online at work use their personal smartphones or tablets.

Odd Gift Choices?

Maybe some of that shopping is for co-workers. According to the same survey, unusual gifts workers have received from a colleague include:

  • A “gun of the day” calendar.

  • A Christmas ornament adorned with a picture of a co-worker and the co-worker’s spouse.

  • Zombie action figures.

  • A turquoise leather vest.

  • A fire extinguisher.

    Some companies are OK with employees doing their online shopping at work.

    “So long as productivity and customer service meet expectations, many employers are lenient in regards to a small amount of holiday shopping at work,” Rosemary Haefner, vice president of HR at CareerBuilder, stated in a news release.

    A survey from Robert Half Technology found that 27 percent of 2,400 senior IT professionals interviewed by phone said their companies allow unrestricted access to shopping sites—an increase of 17 percentage points since 2012, SHRM Online reported in November 2014. Additionally, 42 percent allow access but monitor activity for excessive use, a decrease of 13 percentage points since 2012. Less than one-third (30 percent) of respondents said their firms block access to online shopping sites; this is similar to the number from previous years.

    CareerBuilder found similar results. In its survey, 53 percent of employers said they block employees from accessing certain websites from work and 32 percent said they monitor the sites employees visit.

    Haefner advised employees to be mindful of their company’s Web guidelines, noting that CareerBuilder found that 24 percent of managers have fired employees for nonwork-related use of the Internet. Only 8 percent in 2014, though, pointed directly to online shopping at work as a reason for dismissal.​​

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