Employees Browsing On Amazon Prime Day May Be A Sign Of A Healthy Company

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Angela Atamian was between meetings in the office on Tuesday when she spotted a co-worker scrolling on their phone. Atamian, a human resources executive, joked, “Happy Amazon Prime Day!”

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While millions of Americans find themselves in jobs where they can’t spare a moment to shop online while on the clock, many millions can. Forget historic inflation and rising borrowing costs. If the company Zoom call has 10 participants, chances are that six of them are also shopping, according to a 2021 Digital.com study of 1,250 remote U.S. workers.

Don’t let those warnings concerning lost productivity fool you, however, including the latest one, a survey this week by marketing firm Fluent that showed 20% of workers confessing that Prime Day shopping made them less productive at work. In the same survey, of 18,000 workers, 25% of employees told pollsters their productivity actually increased during Prime Day hours.

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Experts say that an employee who feels they can take 30 minutes during the day to shop, then get right back to work, is likely working for an employer who’s created a healthy company culture.

“The ability to play every once in a while should be totally fine,” says Jan Lehman, an executive coach and founder of consultancy CTC Productivity. “Our days are always blended, and sometimes the pendulum swings more toward personal things versus business and vice versa.”

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There’s a limit, of course, on how much time a worker can take away from work weighing the pros and cons of a particular pair of shoes or comparing lawn furniture and still be a fruitful worker at a healthy company. Lehman warns that more than that half hour on Amazon might begin to sap an employee’s output. Disengaged employees cost the global economy $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace” 2022 report found.

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“We’re in the most distracting time in the history of humanity right now,” says John Winner, cofounder and CEO of software company Kizen, which uses automation and AI to boost company productivity. “There are so many different things, whether it’s Prime Day or different beeps, buzzes and notifications from our phone, that are potentially distracting team members.”

Even Atamian admits to checking baby items she comes across online, and though she says she was too busy this week to shop Prime Days during work hours, she would sneak a look at a deal, say, on her way down the hallway from one meeting to another.

The ways that companies track their employees’ focus might damage their relationships with them more than lost productivity can harm a firm’s bottom line. Big Brother-esque efforts, such as monitoring keystrokes, search histories and mouse movement have long been hot-button issues that only grew amid the pandemic-induced trend toward remote work.

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“That type of corporate over-lording isn’t what any employee wants,” Winner says. And it’s an outdated type of management style “we’re really seeing start to die out.”

Tom Miller, founder and CEO of ClearForce, a behavioral risk management platform, says for many companies, surveillance has become more about identifying, managing and minimizing risks, such as an employee clicking on a phishing email or otherwise allowing a virus to enter the workplace computer system.

“You obviously have an employee that isn’t feeling overly engaged in their job if they’re spending the bulk of their day online shopping or following sports throughout the day,” Miller says. “If you have strong leadership inside an organization, they’re probably enabling employees to have enough free time and find that right work-life balance to be able to take advantage of things like Amazon Prime Day or March Madness without it adversely affecting their ability to produce results.”



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