by: Dan Malachowski, Salary.com

For many American workers today, time’s a wastin’ – literally. According to a new survey by America Online and Salary.com, 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 / Salary.com survey indicates that employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect. Salary.com calculated that employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

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 (if this applies to you, click on the Salary Wizard to find out what you are worth).

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%

CATS VS. MICE

Are workers really expected to work 8 hours per day, non-stop? According to a Salary.com 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.

“To some bosses, that’s a startling figure,” says Salary.com’s Senior Vice President Bill Coleman. “Others, though, will view this extra wasted time as so-called ‘creative waste’ – wasted time that may well have a positive impact on the company’s culture, work environment, and even business results.”

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 WASTES THE MOST TIME?

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.

Which industries account for the most wasted time?

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.

HOW DOES YOUR STATE RANK?

Where does the most work-time get wasted? Regionally, the most time appears to be wasted in the Midwest, while the least appears to be wasted in the South. The biggest time wasters reside in Missouri, Indiana, and Kentucky. Workers in South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Hawaii slack off the least.

Top 5 Time-Wasting States

State Time Wasted (hours/day) Salary Dollars Wasted (per year)

1 Missouri 3.2 hrs. $28.1 billion

2 Indiana 2.8 hrs. $25.1 billion

3 Kentucky 2.8 hrs. $15.4 billion

4 Wisconsin 2.8 hrs. $23.8 billion

5 Nevada 2.7 hrs. $9.8 billion

Top 5 Time-Conserving States

State Time Wasted (hours/day) Salary Dollars Wasted (per year)

1 South Carolina 1.3 hrs. $3.0 billion

2 Rhode Island 1.3 hrs. $805 million

3 Hawaii 1.3 hrs. $975 million

4 West Virginia 1.4 hrs. $1.6 billion

5 North Carolina 1.4 hrs. $8.1 billion

Salary Dollars Wasted column reports (for each state shown) the total value of all salary dollars actually paid by employers, for which work was expected but not actually performed by employees. The calculation assumes that employers expect, and therefore allocate no salary dollars for, the first 0.94 hours of wasted time per employee. Calculations also assume a standard five-day workweek consisting of 8 hours per day, and a U.S. average salary of $39,795.33 per year (Q1 2005). Census data for non-farm workers employed in each state (Q1 2005) was obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

COSTLY BUSINESS

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.

Adding It All Up Per Hour Per Day Per Year

Average hrs. American worker actually wastes 2.09 hrs.

Average hrs. American workers are expected to waste by HR .94 hrs.

Difference between expected and actual time wasted 1.15 hrs. 299 hrs.

Average American worker’s annual salary $19.13 $153.04 $39,795

Total salary dollars wasted per employee $5,720

Total number of American workers (non-farm) 132 million

Total salary cost to companies $759 billion

Note: Time-wasted figures are based on an 8-hour workday (2080 hrs. per year)

If you are guilty of wasting a little time at work, and reading this far may indicate that you are, it may be comforting to know that you are not alone. Samara Jaffe, Director of Careers/AOL Find a Job Channel says that “it’s nice to see that American workers aren’t all work-minded 100% of the day, and that their employers are realistic about that too.”

Some employees even told us other ways they waste their time at work, such as primping in the bathroom mirror and having running races up the staircase with co-workers. One respondent writes, “the hurried walk around the office is not only a great way to look like you are busy, but also a good cardio exercise.” Other employees bring Game Boys or needlework to the office. And when all other time-wasting tactics fail, there is always staring blankly at your computer screen or out a window.

So take a few minutes to surf the web or socialize with co-workers. Then, get back to work!

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

America Online and Salary.com conducted in-depth research relating to time wasted at work among 10,044 respondents during May and June, 2005. Populations surveyed included AOL users, Salary.com Salary Wizard users and corporate human resource professionals. Respondents were asked to indicate how much time they wasted in an average workday, assuming a workweek consisting of five 8-hour days. Demographic information, including respondent geography, job category and gender was also collected in the study. Data was analyzed by Salary.com’s team of Certified Compensation Professionals.

Wasted Time At Work: Full State List

State Time Wasted (1) Salary Dollars Wasted (2)

1 Missouri 3.2 hrs. $28.1 billion

2 Indiana 2.8 hrs. $25.1 billion

3 Kentucky (3) 2.8 hrs. $15.4 billion

4 Wisconsin 2.8 hrs. $23.8 billion

5 Nevada (3) 2.7 hrs. $9.7 billion

6 Oklahoma 2.7 hrs. $12.0 billion

7 Virginia 2.7 hrs. $29.0 billion

8 Pennsylvania 2.6 hrs. $43.0 billion

9 Connecticut 2.5 hrs. $11.8 billion

10 Idaho 2.5 hrs. $4.2 billion

11 New Mexico (3) 2.5 hrs. $5.7 billion

12 Tennessee 2.5 hrs. $19.3 billion

13 Texas 2.5 hrs. $68.0 billion

14 Alabama 2.4 hrs. $12.8 billion

15 District of Columbia 2.4 hrs. $4.6 billion

16 Maryland 2.4 hrs. $17.0 billion

17 Mississippi (3) 2.4 hrs. $7.6 billion

18 New York 2.4 hrs. $56.3 billion

19 Nebraska 2.3 hrs. $5.8 billion

20 California 2.2 hrs. $84.4 billion

21 Florida 2.2 hrs. $44.4 billion

22 North Dakota (3) 2.2 hrs. $2.0 billion

23 Illinois 2.1 hrs. $30.7 billion

24 New Jersey 2.1 hrs. $21.3 billion

25 Ohio 2.1 hrs. $28.6 billion

26 Wyoming (3) 2.1 hrs. $1.3 billion

27 Arkansas 2.0 hrs. $5.7 billion

28 Delaware (3) 2.0 hrs. $2.1 billion

29 Georgia 2.0 hrs. $18.8 billion

30 Colorado 1.9 hrs. $9.7 billion

31 Massachusetts 1.9 hrs. $14.0 billion

32 Michigan 1.9 hrs. $19.1 billion

33 Minnesota 1.9 hrs. $11.8 billion

34 Oregon 1.9 hrs. $7.1 billion

35 Maine (3) 1.8 hrs. $2.4 billion

36 Montana (3) 1.8 hrs. $1.6 billion

37 Vermont (3) 1.8 hrs. $1.2 billion

38 Washington 1.8 hrs. $10.7 billion

39 Iowa 1.7 hrs. $5.1 billion

40 Louisiana 1.7 hrs. $6.7 billion

41 Arizona 1.6 hrs. $7.4 billion

42 Utah 1.6 hrs. $3.4 billion

43 Alaska (3) 1.5 hrs. $763 million

44 South Dakota 1.5 hrs. $982 million

45 Kansas 1.4 hrs. $2.8 billion

46 New Hampshire 1.4 hrs. $1.3 billion

47 North Carolina 1.4 hrs. $8.1 billion

48 West Virginia 1.4 hrs. $1.6 billion

49 Hawaii (3) 1.3 hrs. $975 million

50 Rhode Island 1.3 hrs. $805 million

51 South Carolina 1.3 hrs. $3.0 billion

(1) Time Wasted column reports (for each state shown) the average number of work-hours wasted per person, per day. Except as expressly noted, state averages are based on individual responses received from survey participants actually living in those states. All Time Wasted figures exclude time spent on employer-approved breaks (including lunch).

(2) Salary Dollars Wasted column reports (for each state shown) the total value of all salary dollars actually paid by employers, for which work was expected but not actually performed by employees. The calculation assumes that employers expect, and therefore allocate no salary dollars for, the first 0.94 hours of wasted time per employee. Calculations also assume a standard five-day workweek consisting of 8 hours per day, and a U.S. average salary of $39,795.33 per year (Q1 2005). Census data for non-farm workers employed in each state (Q1 2005) was obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

(3) Estimate only. An insufficient number of responses was received from state residents. Estimate is based in part on responses received from persons living in the region in which the state is located (but not the state itself). Regions are based on boundaries recognized by the Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Copyright 2005 Salary.com, Inc.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2005/07/11/wastingtime.TMP

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