Workers Are Wasting More and More Time on the Job

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Everyone wastes time at work occasionally. From surfing the Web to talking to coworkers to simply zoning out, we are all guilty of a little time wasting. However, for some people, time wasting at work has become more of a regular occurrence and hobby than an infrequent lapse. Salary.com recently released its 2014 Wasting Time at Work Survey results, which includes results from 750 respondents.

According to the survey, more and more people are wasting time at work. Many workers are losing valuable work time by going online, but there are other time zappers, as well. What is particularly surprising is the amount of time that workers are wasting. The act of wasting time at work seems inevitable regardless of the field that workers are employed in, and men and women alike are guilty of time wasting.

According to survey results, 89 percent of respondents said they waste time at work every day, a 20 percent increase over the 69 percent who said the same thing last year. Apparently, people are spending longer amounts of time wasting time. An incredible 2 percent of respondents said they wasted five or more hours daily (another 2 percent reported wasting roughly four hours per day), 6 percent claimed they wasted about three hours each day, and 16 percent said they wasted about two hours each day.

The majority of those surveyed wasted about an hour or so each day (31 percent wasted about an hour, and another 31 percent wasted about 30 minutes). These numbers are surprising: It’s hard to imagine anyone could waste multiple hours each day and keep their job, and even an hour lost out of a day is considerable.

It’s easy to imagine just how people are wasting their time. Social networking is a serious time zapper, and last year, 15 percent of those surveyed said that Facebook was the biggest online distraction. This year, Facebook came in second to Google (24 percent), and LinkedIn came in third, with 14 percent. Several other websites were on the list, including Yahoo and Amazon.

Of course, people don’t just waste time online. According to the survey, other issues that people faced were having too many meetings or conference calls, dealing with annoying coworkers, dealing with an annoying boss, personal phone calls, and returning emails.

It seems obvious that many managers or bosses would notice if you were to miss out on multiple hours of work each day, but time wasting happens at almost every level of various different jobs. According to this survey, single men in their 20s and 30s without higher education are the biggest time wasters. Men apparently waste a little more time than women (91 percent and 87 percent, respectively), but women prefer Facebook. Single people also waste a little bit more time (91 percent to 88 percent of married people); however, according to the survey, 85 percent of those who are divorced waste time.

Age also matters when it comes to time wasting. Ninety-one percent of people ages 18 to 25 waste time daily, but 95 percent of people 26 to 32 years old do the same. On the other end of the spectrum, 85 percent of people age 51 to 60 waste time daily, as well as 78 percent of people who are 60 and older. Of those surveyed, the majority believed that their breaks made them more productive (53 percent.) However, 2 percent of people said they were not very interested in their jobs and couldn’t pay full attention. Lack of incentive (8 percent), lack of job satisfaction (7 percent), and not being paid enough (2 percent) were also on the list.

Although time wasting is common in all professions, 100 percent of those working in finance and banking admitted to wasting time at work each day. Last year, government workers admitted to wasting the most time.

The way that bosses and others in management respond to time wasting is different from company to company. Some companies completely ban social media and other sites that distract employees, but other companies have little or no Web filters at all. According to the employees who responded to the survey, 27 percent said that their employers block many non work-related sites, but 56 percent of respondents said they would just use personal devices to get online. It’s apparent that for many employers, there’s little to be done to stop employees from getting online.

Wasting time at work seems to be a practice that is here to stay. How big of a problem it will become depends on the individual company and the employees that work there. With so many employees wasting hours each day at work, companies are clearly losing a lot of money by paying workers for job duties that they are not doing (or that they are putting off). The next challenge that employees will have to face is how to limit employees from wasting so much time and costing employers hours of lost productivity.

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