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Wasting Time At Work

August 27 2007 - The third annual survey of over 2000 employees across all job levels by Salary.com found that over 63 per cent of respondents admitted to wasting time at work and the average amount was 1.7 hours out of a typical 8.5 hour day.

The report suggests that although there has been a steady decline in the amount of time wasted "companies are still paying billions in salaries for which they receive no direct benefit".

Consistent with previous findings, the leading time-wasting activities were:

  • personal internet use (34.7 per cent)
  • socializing with co-workers (20.3 per cent), and
  • conducting personal business (17 per cent)

Respondents also reported making personal phone calls and taking longer than necessary to run work-related errands.

The survey found that younger employees waste the most time - an average of

  • 2.1 hours for those between 20-29 years
  • 1.9 hours for 30-39 year olds, and
  • 1.4 hours for those between 40-49 years

Most employees admit to wasting time because they say that:

  • they "don't have enough work to do" (17.7 per cent)
  • their hours are too long (13.9 per cent)
  • they are underpaid (11.8 per cent), and
  • they lack challenging work (11.1 per cent)

Respondents felt that some work-related activities are a waste of time:

  • correcting someone else's work (18.1 per cent)
  • office politics (16.2 per cent), and
  • dealing with emails (13.1 per cent)

Bill Coleman, chief compensation officer at Salary.com said:

"While a certain amount of wasted time is built into company salary structures, our research indicates that companies with a challenged and engaged workforce can expect more productivity in return."

Research shows the amount of time wasted at work has declined by 19 per cent since the first survey in 2005. At that time employees reported wasting an average of 2.09 hours per day, decreasing to 1.86 hours in 2006. This trend is thought to reflect numerous factors, including a growing economy, increases in employee productivity and a tightening labor market.

Bill Coleman commented:

"A shortage of labor and tighter company budgets have resulted in an increased burden on employees who now have less time available to waste. This translates into a greater return for companies but increases the risk of employee burnout. When increasing workloads, organizations should also allow a certain amount of flexibility for employees to conduct personal business or take a mental breather."


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