Survey: US Workers Idle For 2 Hours/Day

Monday, July 11, 2005

33.8 hours of productive time per workweek? Forget it! It's closer to 25 hours. According to a survey (n= 10,044) from Salary.com and AOL the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, lunch and breaks not included. Salary.com comes up with a mind-boggling figure for the economic damage done: 759 billion dollars. The biggest distraction is personal internet-use which accounts for 45 percent or 55 minutes of the time-off while on-the-job. The Prudent Investor hopes they are at least reading blogs like this one or the ones listed in the blogroll in the sidebar. Chatters with co-workers take up another half hour while conducting personal business - is that maybe online-trading - eats up less than ten minutes. "Spacing out" comes in a distant fourth with just 5 minutes a day.
Human relations departments underestimate the time spent unproductive seriously the survey states. They assume idle time at 54 minutes but suspect it to run as high as 1 hour 36 minutes. They better adapt their spreadsheets when workers themselves admit 2 hours 5 minutes.
Older workers, those born before 1949 and eligible for retirement in the next decade, waste the least time, admitting half an hour per day. Those born after 1985 seem to have other things on their mind, spending 2 hours per workday on other business than they are paid for.
Top Time-Wasters By Industry And State
The top time-wasters by industry are insurance companies with 2.5 hours wasted every day, followed by the public non-educational sector where 2.4 hours are spent near the coffee-maker or running errands.
In banking and finance employees admitted to waste away 1.8 hours per day. Seems the time-pressure vanishes with the distance to the trading floor.
Working in Missouri? Don't feel bad if you need up to 3.2 hours every day for your personal matters. You are just average, costing the state's economy 28.1 billion greenbacks in wasted salary p.a.
Don't do that in South Carolina, Rhode Island or Hawaii though. The average worker there needs just 1.3 workhours for his private affairs.
Don't blame the workers solely though. One third gave as the reason, "don't have enough work to do," while 15 percent said their co-workers distracted them.
The bad numbers give reason for optimism though. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is correct when being confident about future productivity gains. Weeding out only half of the wasted time should theoretically result in 15 percent higher productivity.

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