Survey: Workers Wasting Time Costs Billions

Needham, MA, July 20--According to a new survey by America Online and, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time. As a matter of practice, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when determining employee pay. However, the America Online / survey indicates that employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect. calculated that employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed. The biggest distraction for respondents? Personal Internet use. 44.7% of the more than 10,000 people polled cited web surfing as their #1 distraction at work. Socializing with co-workers came in second at 23.4%. Conducting personal business, "spacing out," running errands, and making personal phone calls were the other popular time-wasting activities in the workplace. Top Time-Wasting Activities (%) 1 Surfing Internet (personal use) 44.7% 2 Socializing with co-workers 23.4% 3 Conducting personal business 6.8% 4 Spacing out 3.9% 5 Running errands off-premises 3.1% 6 Making personal phone calls 2.3% 7 Applying for other jobs 1.3% 8 Planning personal events 1.0% 9 Arriving late / Leaving early 1.0% 10 Other 12.5% Employees say they're not always to blame for this wasted time, however. 33.2% of respondents cited lack of work as their biggest reason for wasting time. 23.4% said they wasted time at work because they feel as if they are underpaid. Top Time-Wasting Excuses (%) 1 Don't have enough work to do 33.2% 2 Underpaid for amount of work 23.4% 3 Co-workers distract me 14.7% 4 Not enough after-work time 12.0% 5 Other 16.7% Are workers really expected to work 8 hours per day, non-stop? According to a follow-up survey of Human Resource managers, companies assume that employees will waste 0.94 hours per day. They take this into account when they do their compensation planning. However, those managers privately suspect that employees waste 1.6 hours per day. In fact, employees admit to wasting 2.09 hours per day. Time Wasted During an 8-Hour Workday Number of Hours/Day Assumed by HR 0.94 hrs. Suspected by HR 1.60 hrs. Admitted by Employees 2.09 hrs. Who tends to waste the most time at work? * Men vs. Women: Men and women waste about the same amount of time per day. This, despite the fact that most HR managers surveyed suspected that women wasted more time at work than men. * Youngsters vs. Seniors: As the following statistics show, the older people are, the less time they waste at work: Year of Birth Time Wasted Per Day 1930-1949 0.50 hrs. 1950-1959 0.68 hrs. 1960-1969 1.19 hrs. 1970-1979 1.61 hrs. 1980-1985 1.95 hrs. Top 5 Time-Wasting Industries Job Category Time Wasted Per Day 1 Insurance 2.5 hrs. 2 Public Sector (Non-Education) 2.4 hrs. 3 Research & Development 2.3 hrs. 4 Education 2.2 hrs. 5 Software & Internet 2.2 hrs. Top 5 Time-Conserving Industries Job Category Time Wasted Per Day 1 Shipping and Receiving 1.7 hrs. 2 Manufacturing 1.8 hrs. 3 Healthcare Related 1.8 hrs. 4 Finance and Banking 1.8 hrs. 5 Marketing and Communications 2.0 hrs. The average yearly American salary is $39,795 per year - or $19.13 per hour. If the average worker wastes 1.15 hours more than employers suspect, per 8-hour work day, that adds up to $5,720 per year, per worker in wasted salary dollars. So with the American workforce 132 million (non-farm) employees strong, the total in lost salary dollars adds up to $759 billion per year.