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US Employees Waste 20% of Their Work Day According to Salary.com

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RISMEDIA, July 27, 2007—Salary.com, Inc., a provider of on-demand compensation management solutions, released the results of its 2007 Wasting Time Survey revealing that the average employee wastes 1.7 hours of a typical 8.5 hour work day. This is the third year Salary.com has conducted the survey and, while the amount of wasted time has steadily declined, companies are still paying billions in salaries for which they receive no direct benefit.

As in previous years, personal Internet use (34.7% of respondents), socializing with co-workers (20.3%) and conducting personal business (17.0%) remain the leading time-wasting activities. Respondents also report making personal phone calls and taking long breaks to run errands while on the job.

Interestingly, the reasons for wasting time cover both extremes. While many employees admit to wasting time because they ‘don’t have enough work to do’ (17.7%), the second most popular, and somewhat contradictory, response is ‘my hours are too long’ (13.9%). Employees also cite being underpaid (11.8%) and a lack of challenging work (11.1%) as reasons for slacking on the job.

“While a certain amount of wasted time is built into company salary structures, our research indicates that companies with a challenged and engaged workforce can expect more productivity in return,” states Bill Coleman, chief compensation officer at Salary.com.

While the amount of time wasted at work may appear high, it has actually declined 19% since the first survey in 2005. At that time employees reported wasting an average of 2.09 hours per day and, in 2006, the figure receded to 1.86 hours. This trend is likely the result of numerous factors, including a growing economy, increases in employee productivity and a tightening labor market.

“A shortage of labor and tighter company budgets have resulted in an increased burden on employees who now have less time available to waste,” adds Coleman. “This translates into a greater return for companies but increases the risk of employee burnout. When increasing workloads, organizations should also allow a certain amount of flexibility for employees to conduct personal business or take a mental breather.”

Other interesting findings from the 2007 Wasting Time Survey include:
- Over 63% of respondents admitted to wasting time at work.
- Younger workers waste more time than their older counterparts. Employees between 20-29 years old reported the highest total—2.1 hours per day. The average for 30-39 year olds drops to 1.9 hours and ages 40-49 report wasting just 1.4 hours per day.
- Survey respondents also feel that some of their work-related activities are a waste of time including: fixing someone else’s work (18.1%), dealing with office politics (16.2%) and sending or responding to e-mails (13.1%).

Salary.com surveyed over 2,000 employees across all job levels during June and July of 2007. The surveys were fielded to AOL and Salary.com users and their responses were submitted electronically. Salary.com compensation professionals reviewed the data for accuracy and consistency and aggregated the valid submissions.

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