Today is December 19th and that means the holiday season is in full swing! The tree is up, the menorah is lit, holiday cards are sent, and the presents are wrapped. Well, some of the presents are wrapped…because if you’re like most holiday shoppers, you still have a “few things” (aka EVERYTHING) left to buy.  Why did you wait until the last minute again?! Your “I’ll just pop over to the mall quickly to get everything I need” mentality took over again. This small lapse in judgment is almost guaranteed to result in a series of events that will lead to your own personal nightmare. This “quick trip” will probably be something a little more like this:

Like a lioness on the hunt, you’re slowly creeping your car row by row, stalking your “prey” as they return to their vehicles. You’re just waiting for the chance to pounce and claim your kill-(er) parking spot with a flick of the turn signal. (…45 Minutes later) You’re still aimlessly driving around the parking lot, no spot in sight. Not. a. single. one.  You end up parking in a tow zone over by the dumpsters (obviously, not ideal) but come on, what other choice do you have? Go home? Heck no! You came here to shop, and you are going to SHOP. Tow zone, schmo zone. It will only take a few minutes anyways…


By the time you make your way to the mall entrance from your pseudo parking spot that’s approximately 1.4 miles away, you’re sweating and have blisters forming on both feet. Things are NOT off to a good start. You walk into Target, the first stop on your “quick” holiday shopping pilgrimage and cannot believe your eyes: The shelves are EMPTY (aside from a few dust bunnies and an empty Starbucks holiday cup). Two women are fighting over the last Barbie Dream House. Children are crying, no actually children are SCREAMING. Pre-teens are “Oh-Em-Gee-ing” (loudly) on their sparkly pink iPhones. There are people EVERYWHERE and you feel like a wildebeest migrating across the Serengeti. Everyone around you is either moving at a glacial pace or pushing and shoving their way like they’re competing  on The Amazing Race. The checkout lines are wrapped up and down, and down and up every aisle in sight. You can’t take it. It’s all too much to handle, you have to get out of there. And so, you leave. You leave empty handed and end up at 7/11 where you buy your family and friends a random assortment of less-than-desirable gift cards to C-grade restaurants.

Since you’re probably reading this at work right now and don’t need the added stress (working in healthcare is stressful enough and it can take a toll on productivity and performance), we’ll stop reminding you of how close you’re cutting it if you haven’t wrapped up (pun intended, get it? wrapped…like a present) your to-do’s for the looming holiday deadline. The funny thing is, all of those stress-inducing situations that we just mentioned can be avoided. Enter: online shopping. Revolutionary, isn’t it? In fact, many Americans complete almost all of their holiday shopping online—without even leaving the office.

According to a recent report from CareerBuilder, when it comes to holiday shopping while on the clock, talent management professionals know one thing is for sure: non-work related internet use, like online shopping, slows productivity.  One in four managers even go as far as to say that improper use of the business network can get you fired. CareerBuilder commissioned Harris Poll to do an online survey to find out how likely it is that employees will use the company internet to get their shopping done this year and who are the worst offenders. The polling ran from August 11th to September 5th and surveyed a group of more than 5,000 professionals across all industries. This survey data offers some interesting insight into just how common online shopping is in the workplace.

Last year, a similar survey found more than half of the participants, 54 percent, planned to do their Christmas shopping online during regular business hours. This year, the numbers show a telling shift—only 47 percent of those who took the survey expect to spend work time shopping online. Analysts say that is the lowest level in the post-recession era. Of the industries included in the survey, healthcare remained steady with 52 percent of staff doing their online shopping while on shift or at work. However, healthcare isn’t the highest on the list — information technology topped it at 71 percent with business services in second place with 66 percent. Apparently, having a desk boosts the urge to fill your online cart and buy with quick click. The industries that showed that workplace shopping was less of a problem included:

  • Transportation — 41 percent
  • Manufacturing — 40 percent
  • Hospitality — 39 percent
  • Retail — 29 percent

There is one common thread among all the industries, however. The people most likely to take advantage of their employer’s internet connection this holiday season are senior-level employees. Around 53 percent of the top-dog decision makers say online shopping at their desks is completely fair game, for them, at least. “So long as productivity and customer service meet expectations, many employers are lenient in regards to a small amount of holiday shopping at work,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. It’s still advisable, however, to be mindful of your company’s guidelines, as one in four managers tell us they’ve fired employees for non-work related use of the internet.

Healthcare organizations who are attempting to limit the online shopping productivity drain that typically hits hard during the holiday season may need to look beyond frontline staff and crack down on those who take up residency in corner offices.  CareerBuilder’s survey revealed that across all industries, senior-level employees (C-suite, senior VP, VPs, etc.) are more likely to spend their workday shopping online compared to entry-level or professional staff members – at 53 percent to 46 percent respectively. Of this group, 10 percent admit that they typically spend more than 3 hours of their day shopping. So if executives and VPs are free to browse the web during work hours, does non-work related internet use during the daily grind really even matter?

The internet era has given birth to a new buzzword – cyberslacking. It is not just online shopping that interferes with work quality and productivity. Catching up on the daily news,  social media and gaming are all shiny baubles drawing employees away from delivering quality patient care and into the virtual world of a cyberslacker. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that healthcare workers spend about 12 minutes per hour on social media. That is one of the reasons why some facilities are implementing strict internet-usage guidelines and even blocking certain websites while browsing on their network. However, across all sectors employers are divided when it comes to how they let employees access the internet and use social media:

  • 53 percent of employers say their organization blocks access to certain websites from work, with 32 percent monitoring the sites employees visit
  • 50 percent of employers restrict employees from posting on behalf of the company on social media, and 25 percent have adopted stricter policies in the past year
  • 24 percent say they’ve fired someone for using the internet for a non-work related activity, and 8 percent of all employers pointed their reasoning directly to shopping while on the clock

So much for last minute online shopping and/or browsing the current sales on your lunch break, right? This survey data shows that the real question here is: who is monitoring the monitors? Do the individuals in senior leadership positions think that they are exempt from the rules and policies set by the organization? What makes those in “power” feel as if the rules are only put in place to monitor the actions of frontline staff and individual contributors? Aren’t the rules supposed to apply to all, not just some? How did these individuals get to be in a position of power in the first place if this is their rationale? Could it be that these people were hired  based upon a “gut feeling” from the hiring manager? It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a way to hire strong leaders that is not based upon intuition.

There are people out there with leadership potential who are savvy enough to understand the nuances of setting an example for other employees. It just takes having the right processes in place to find them. Through the use of pre-hire behavioral assessments, healthcare organizations can leverage the power of behavioral-based science for leader selection, development, and succession planning.  Identifying high performers can be achieved through objective analysis of core leadership competencies such as critical thinking, achievement orientation, emotional evenness, and conscientiousness. If your organization is struggling with putting the right people at the top, consider how a pre-hire assessment rooted in behavioral science can create a balance that will ensure those at the top are individuals of strong moral character. The morale integrity bar is set high when the right people are in place to serve as an example for their colleagues. With strong healthcare leaders, comes strong healthcare employees and the entire organization will benefit and ultimately,  impact patient outcomes.

Do you want to learn more about how healthcare organizations, particularly ‘Best Place to Work’ organizations are recruiting and retaining their top talent for leadership positions? Download our white paper, Becoming a Best Place to Work Organization: Recruiting & Retention Strategies for Healthcare to learn best practices from award-winning organizations.  

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Meghan Doherty

About Meghan Doherty

Meghan Doherty is the Content Marketing Manager at HealthcareSource. In her role, Meghan manages the creation and distribution of educational resources to help healthcare talent management professionals recruit and retain the best workforce possible. When she's not creating content for HealthcareSource, Meghan enjoys long walks through the shoe department, binge-watching anything and everything on Netflix, peanut butter sandwiches, and watching Jeopardy every night at 7:30.