Employees can't keep their eye on the job

Three in 10 workers spend more than three hours a week looking for jobs at work. Time to clamp down on their infidelity, or just let them ogle?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 13 Jul 2011
That figure comes courtesy of a survey by job site Monster, which also found that 16% of people spend more than five hours a week in their job looking for work somewhere else, while 7% do so for a hefty 10 hours or more. Following Monster’s sums, such cheeky habits lose UK plc 14m hours each week, which equates to a monetary loss of £250m.

So what are these untrustworthy types up to? The majority are limited to browsing the internet to look for roles, yet a large proportion say they also update their CV and apply for roles while at work. One in four employees has even carried out telephone interviews for another job on company time.

The figure sounds bad, but to be honest if they’re at the stage of hunting for other work while on the job that probably signals their productivity was hardly up to speed anyway. It may seem a bit cheeky in a time of high unemployment to be wasting time in a job you already have in order to find a better one, but we can’t help thinking this is just part of the reality of being a boss – it’s just something people will end up doing, rather like your girlfriend copping a look at a fire engine every time it drives past, even if she denies it.

It’s certainly a damn sight easier to sneak in a bit of a job search now than in the days when it involved wrestling with the various corners of a broadsheet newspaper, or actually hiking in person to the job centre. Indeed, these days only one in 10 get caught by a boss or colleague. Of course, if you’re wondering where the moral line is, here’s a tip: if you’re getting to the stage of inventing the death of a relative in order to get time off for an interview, as some respondees admitted to doing, you probably want to rewind a few steps.

There’s probably one decent piece of advice for any manager who’s concerned about such sneaky behaviour: treat your employees as well as you can, and give them work that properly engages them; that way they’re less likely to look elsewhere. If they do so regardless, then you were probably always going to lose them.

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