How to deal with employee productivity issues on cyber-Monday

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year; however, the traffic, long lines and potential of becoming a victim of an overzealous shoppers’ stampede are reasons why some shoppers choose to stay at home. Cyber Monday — the answer to Black Friday — offers the online deals frugal shoppers want without the hassle of lining up at retailers’ doors before 4 a.m. Cyber Monday is evolving into Cyber Week, a week-long buying frenzy for holiday shoppers looking for irresistible bargains. Human resources professionals, however, see Cyber Monday and Cyber Week as a threat to workplace productivity.



Consider how Internet access impacts your work force productivity through comparisons of Cyber Monday and Cyber Week online shopping projects to your company’s overall Internet usage. A relatively low number of employees foresee online shopping consuming a large portion of the workday. In an article titled “Thirty Percent of Workers Holiday Shop Online at Work, Survey Shows,” research suggests: “… nearly a quarter (24 percent) of workers who holiday shop online expect to spend two or more hours doing so this year. Thirteen percent plan to holiday shop online for three or more hours, while 5 percent anticipate spending five or more hours.”

Web Spy, a business-to-business provider of Internet monitoring systems states: “Over one quarter (26.2 percent) of Internet access time in the workplace is used for personal reasons unrelated to job duties. One in five employees regularly visits social networking pages or plans travel and over 15 percent play online games, download music and job hunt.”


Develop ways to accommodate employees’ needs and preserve the employer-employee relationship. While you may not think online shopping is a need, saving money on Cyber Monday or during Cyber Week can make a big difference to employees at holiday time. An employee who saves hundreds of dollars in holiday shopping is often a happy employee. Review your performance management system and eliminate policies that convey a message of employer distrust. Employees who feel their employer doesn’t have trust in them exhibit poor job satisfaction and low employee morale.


Review your company’s coaching and improvement philosophy. Many employers have a progressive disciplinary policy that contains a series of steps before termination. This concept uses punitive measures to control the workplace, when positive reinforcement is just as effective in shaping performance standards. Moreover, progressive disciplinary policies perpetuate a parent-child relationship between the employer and employee, instead of a working relationship based on mutual trust and respect between adults. Overnight employer monitoring policies for Cyber Monday and Cyber Week are just as punitive as a progressive disciplinary policy.


Consider alternatives to organization-wide Internet monitoring or shutting down access to shopping websites. Communicate to employees the need to maintain productivity during busy shopping seasons, and convey a message of confidence in workers who are mindful of balancing work and personal business through prudent use of Internet access during the holiday season.

Instead of blocking access to Internet sites, allow employees to take an extended lunch break with notice to their co-workers so duties or workstations aren’t left unattended. Encourage employees to work among themselves to create informal schedules for coverage at essential workstations. You depend on employee to carry out their job duties in a reasonable and efficient manner — entrusting this type of teamwork is no different than company expectations pertaining to any other on-the-job assignment.

By Ruth Mayhew

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