Shopping Online at Work

I am quoted rather extensively in a West HR Advisor feature article on whether and how to monitor employees shopping online at work.

This article won’t be available online for long, so check it out now if you are interested. Funny how the president of an internet usage monitoring system recommends tracking both time spent online and content viewed by your employees. Gee, why would he say that?

My rebuttal:

Given the pros and cons of time-based monitoring, employers should put more effort into performance management. “Employees should be evaluated on how well they are achieving the outcomes they are supposed to do for their employer, not how long they spend surfing the web. If someone is meeting or exceeding their goals, who cares how long they spend online at work?” Gammel asks.

I even get the bottom line quote at the end:

“Ultimately, those who want to goof off will find ways to do so even if the web isn’t viable. This is a management and motivation problem, not one of monitoring,” Gammel says.

You have more fundamental problems in your business than online shopping if you have to go Big Brother on a regular basis. Installing nanny software may seem easier in the short run but it is not going to help improve the value of your employees’ contributions to the organization.

Here is an idea: if you know your employees are going to be shopping online during the day anyway, why not make it a benefit?

Announce that each employee is encouraged to spend up to 2 hours shopping online for the holidays. Tell them they have to work out coverage and scheduling with their bosses but that you want to recognize all they do for you year round by making their shopping a bit easier. You gain good will and scheduling efficiency while losing nothing that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

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One thought on “Shopping Online at Work

  1. What a great idea, David. I’ve never understood the need for employers to monitor or block employee access to certain sites or web-based communication tools en masse. While there might be the occasional individual who abuses it, more than likely that person is also the one who isn’t meeting performance standards anyway.

    If you’re interested, Shel Holtz has started a blog somewhat related to this issue focused on stopping the corporate practice of blocking employee access to the Web out of fear that it inhibits productivity. It’s at http://www.stopblocking.org/

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