IBJNews

Employers brace for Cyber Monday

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Borshoff Inc. has a very relaxed Internet-usage policy, and managers typically look the other way at personal Web surfing as long as employees finish their work on time.

So it’s a safe bet at least some of the 43 workers at the Indianapolis public relations firm will spend at least a little time searching sites for sales during “Cyber Monday.” That’s the Monday after Thanksgiving that ceremoniously kicks off the online holiday shopping season.

They won’t be alone, however, if one study is any indication. More than 53 percent of workers with Internet access, or 68.8 million, are expected to shop online that day, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation.

Business owners and human resources managers alarmed by the high number might be concerned about the pitfalls that might follow, namely loss of productivity and security breaches.

Borshoff’s owner said she's much more concerned about offensive Web sites, inappropriate e-mails and system-threatening e-mail attachments than about lost work time resulting from Internet shopping.

“We’re happy to support commerce, and we certainly recognize that people like the convenience of being able to shop online,” Myra Borshoff said. “I do it myself.”

Experts encourage companies to adopt at least some sort of rules governing Internet usage, whether they’re lax or stringent, to make it clear what is forbidden and what is tolerated.

Susan Kline, a partner in the local law firm of Baker & Daniels LLP who practices employment law, cautions, though, that prohibiting all usage at work may be a bit harsh.

“In this computer age, that’s not very practical,” she said. “The question is, how much is too much?”

The obvious answer that experts commonly cite is: when usage indeed interferes with workplace duties. Employers also might consider adding a privacy policy, Kline said, that does not protect computer usage. Employees then can’t proclaim a right to privacy if they’re caught looking at a lingerie site, for instance, Kline said.

Mellissa Boggs, vice president of human resources and consulting at Indianapolis-based Quantum Human Resources LLC, embraces the “reasonable-use” policy as well.

“If employees are doing their jobs and getting their work done, it’s probably a non-issue, in most cases,” she said. “If it’s an employee on the fence, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

Other organizations, such as the United Way of Central Indiana, hold their employees to a higher standard. They’re allowed to peruse the Internet, but only during non-work hours, and must sign a policy agreeing to the terms upon their hiring, said Kennethe Vaughn, the United Way’s director of human resources and diversity.

“For us, it’s a tool for doing business,” she said, “and we want our employees to use it properly.”

Meanwhile, online holiday retail sales will reach $44.7 billion, up 8 percent from 2008, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research analysts predicted. That compares with a 5-percent increase in online holiday retail sales a year ago.

“Despite the lingering effects of the recession, the online space remains the retail industry’s growth engine,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester e-commerce analyst.

The segment embracing online shopping the most, of course, is young adults ages 18 to 24. Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed said they will shop at work, with more men than women indicating they would do so.

Overall, the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation is projecting overall November-December sales to slip 1 percent from last year, to $437.6 billion.

The decline is well below the 10-year average of 3.3-percent growth. Yet the expected 1-percent dip is not as dramatic as last year’s 3.4- percent drop in holiday retail sales.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.

ADVERTISEMENT