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Small business owners lose countless hours each year to workers who spend their time at work surfing the Internet. As a business consultant, I often hear small business owners asking "Is there a way I can keep my employees from surfing the web at work?" There are simple tricks I have come up with which significantly decreases this type of expensive practice.
If you pay a worker $10 an hour, and he or she is surfing the web at work for a half an hour each day, you are paying them $5 a day to waste time. Over a 250 day work year (2,000 hours a year divided by 8 hours a day), you are paying them $1,250 a year to waste time. If the same person were to steal $10 out of the register, or from petty cash, what would you do? Why should you stand for them for racking your pocketbook every day? I explain this scenario to my clients and to their workers. I find that few workers or owners ever think about surfing the Internet at work as stealing or wasting money. The mental perception of the act needs to change.
If a person performs a job which does not need Internet access they should not have a computer that can access the web. Note, when you go to most doctor's offices, the computers the receptionists use rarely can access the Internet. A great way to prevent workers from surfing around on the Internet is to completely take the option away from them.
Many businesses have workers who need to get online from time to time. There is software out there that will monitor each and every website a computer goes onto and how long the site is accessed. Software like this can easily be found online for free or at a reduced price. In my practice, I will use this software for a week and pass out a printout to each worker to show them which sites they were on that week and for how long. This physical reminder will prove that I am monitoring their work and will deter many workers from embarrassing themselves in the future. This action alone can significantly reduce surfing the web at work.
Discipline or Terminate
If surfing the Internet at work continues after the printouts are given, I begin to discipline the workers. Those which have become the biggest wasters of my money or the money of my clients are reviewed for termination. Any worker who would continue to surf the web at work after realizing they could get in trouble are a cancer to your business and needs to be terminated. There is no better lesson than this for teaching the other employees how important it is to only use the Internet for work purposes.