Cyber Monday: Only the Beginning of Holiday Shopping on Company Time

Today’s the first day back at work after a long holiday weekend.  It also happens to be Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of the day-after-Thanksgiving retail shopping phenomenon Black Friday.

According to research performed this month by CareerBuilder, 29 percent of workers say they have holiday shopped online at work. Of those planning to shop online this year, 27 percent will spend one hour or more. More than one-in-ten (13 percent) said they will spend two hours or more.

There is probably no way to prevent your employees from at least taking a peak at their favorite online retailers today, but more importantly, what should be your strategy for the rest of the season?  Here are some suggestions for handling holiday shopping at work:

Don’t institute a blanket “no shopping” policy

Your team members will feel that you don’t trust them and may perceive that you are acting more like a babysitter than a manager.  After all, productive employees will be productive regardless of whether they shop now and work at home later or vice versa.

Using a low key tone, suggest a moderate approach

You might say something casual, in passing, such as:  “Hey guys, I know there are some big online sales this week.  Let’s just try to limit the shopping to a few minutes a day, okay?”  This will clue them in that you’re cool about it…and also that you’re aware of what they’re doing.

Talk to any team members who are abusing online access individually

If you catch an employee surfing for large periods of time, take her aside and ask if she’s feeling challenged enough.  Perhaps suggest a new project that will re-engage her

Make sure they’re aware of the organization’s larger e-communication policy

Although you don’t necessarily have to do this now, at some point you should host a meeting for your team to discuss appropriate Internet usage on company time.  Many organizations have policies in effect that determine what sites your employees should visit, and how often, and you don’t want any of your employees to land in hot water.

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