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Allow shopping, experts say, but give employees guidelines on safety and productivity
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Cyber Monday is expected to be a very lucrative online shopping day, with an estimated $107.4 billion in online holiday purchases, reports Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), a division of the San Jose, Calif., based computer software company.
Much of that shopping will occur at work on company-owned devices.
Almost half (49 percent) of employees in North America said they typically shop from work on Cyber Monday, and 36 percent say they have taken a day off to shop, according to Robert Half Technology, a division of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing company Robert Half.
In its 2016 survey, Robert Half Technology also found that workers take time throughout the workday to shop, for example:
And although 65 percent of chief information officers say their organizations allow online shopping, 55 percent of employees have not been trained on IT security or online shopping policies, according to Robert Half Technology.
According to CareerBuilder's research, 42 percent of employees will shop using their smartphone or tablet at work.
Telling them not to shop is pointless, so what's HR to do?
"The best way to manage employees who will be shopping online on Cyber Monday is to educate them and give them parameters during the workday," said Cassandra Pratt, director of HR and recruiting for Progyny, a fertility company based in New York City. Adds career adviser Martin Yate: "It's best not to force employees to feel like they have to sneak around to accomplish their shopping goals today. Embrace the day and use it to boost employee engagement."
Experts say HR should encourage employees to follow a company's computer-usage policies and to be careful, as always, when visiting sites online—whether on Cyber Monday or any other day.
[SHRM members-only policy: Computer, E-mail and Internet Usage]
HR professionals should keep in mind that "hackers and cyber criminals thrive on digital information to propagate their malicious activities," and Cyber Monday offers plenty of opportunities for criminals to exploit unsuspecting buyers, said Morey Haber, vice president of technology for Beyond Trust, a cybersecurity company based in Phoenix.
He said employers should suggest that employees:
"It's not manageable to block all sites," she said, adding that setting up computers specifically for employees to shop on might seem like a solution, but it "ends up being a distraction." There's also the added concern of credit card information being captured on a shared computer and that one employee may steal another's information.Generally, she and other experts said, employers need to trust that employees will do their work and manage distractions like online shopping on their own. Employers hire people to do the job but also "because you believe they are responsible adults who work hard for your company. Trust them to manage their time, and give them suggestions on how to accomplish both."
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