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‘Cyber Slacking’ Costs Employers a Pretty Penny, Says New Study

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It is definitely something neither employers nor employees want to hear: A new study reveals that web surfing does not only sap productivity at work, but it can also leave businesses vulnerable to lawsuits.

“Web surfing on company time robs the employer of paid work, and it exposes companies to legal liabilities associated with inappropriate or illegally downloaded content,” said Forrest Collier, CEO of web-filtering company InternetSafety.com. “The mere presence of pornography in the workplace is grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit, which can cost an average $250,000. Even a small company can lose tens of thousands of dollars in work time over the course of a year from cyber slacking.”

Nielsen’s quarterly “Three Screen Report” on U.S. media use showed that approximately 44 percent of all online video is viewed in the workplace. In April, it was revealed that U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission employees spent up to eight hours a day accessing online porn. The same month, Nielsen disclosed that more than 21 million Americans–or 29 percent of working adults- access adult websites from work.

Last year, Nucleus Research released the results of an employee survey showing that companies that allow workers to access Facebook during business hours lose an average of 1.5 percent in total employee productivity. Some employees said they accessed their Facebook accounts as much as two hours daily during work hours, with 87 percent admitting they had no clear business reason for doing so.

Two months ago, the Commissioner of Human Resources in Vermont reported that Internet use at the agency dropped by 25 percent – a full 2,300 hours – in the first week after implementing a new program designed to monitor their web viewing habits. The change suggests that state employees were wasting the equivalent of 57 full-time positions per week, or almost 120,000 employee hours over a one-year period.

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