Personal Business in the Workplace: Where to Draw the Line

Most employees spend some time at work doing personal business such as paying bills or shopping online. But how much is too much, and how do you know when to draw the line?

The Internet has made handling personal tasks at work much easier than it was before.

Some studies have shown that up to 75% of employees admit to using the Internet during work for researching a hobby, shopping, booking personal travel arrangements or looking up sports scores.

Keeping Tabs

Some large companies have added filters to the Internet that limit web access to only the sites that are required for employees to do their jobs. In small businesses such drastic measures are probably not necessary.

You need to decide how much YOU think is too much when it comes to handling personal matters on company time. You may think its fine for an employee to make the occasional personal call, or you may even have a more liberal view.

Once you have determined in your mind what your view is on the matter, you should have a meeting with your employees.

Be Clear on Policy

In the meeting spell out the policy, and have each employee sign a copy to be kept in their files. The reason for this is so that in the event that an employee is taking advantage of far too much time at work to do personal things, you will be able to show him the signed policy to prove that he has been told what the company guidelines are regarding the matter.

There is no need to try and monitor every moment of your employees time. In general, as long as they are getting their work done and don't seem to be wasting a lot of time, you should not be concerned.

If, however, the employees seem to be wasting their work hours on personal business, you will need to step in.

Employees are going to, occasionally, handle personal matters at work. You just need to be sure that your business is not being neglected - and that you are getting what you pay for in each of your employees' salaries.