So, today is supposed to be the Monday equivalent of Black Friday, a day when online shoppers will be hitting the "submit" button over and over again. Lots of dot-com companies are ready, but are you? Do you have a policy for employees to turn to that spells out the do´s and don´ts for going online at work? It seems almost anti-capitalist to prevent people from helping to make this holiday season a financial success for America´s retailers. Indeed, the National Retail Federation even launched a special Web site to encourage shoppers to go online and spend, spend, spend. But there´s work to be done, right?
According to a spokesperson at the federation, about 61 million consumers are expected to shop from work this holiday season, up, apparently, about 10 million from last year. What´s a human resources department to do? You can ignore it, prohibit it (which may or may not be successful and could cause bad will), or embrace it honestly and with a plan. I wonder if anyone has come up with the stats that would tell us how much time people waste shopping online. Of course I´m being rather subjective. I like to peruse online stores just like the next person and I´ll even suggest that it can be a bit of a stress buster to window shop for a few minutes. But what do you do if you catch people shopping during the holidays, people who really could use the time because they spend so much of it at work?
I think it´s best to put a policy in place. If you bring it out into the open, you´re telling people that you know what´s going on, you´re not stupid, and that you understand human nature. But people need limits and boundaries and that´s part of employee development-giving them a framework that is realistic and will bring out their best work.
Maybe you allot a few hours during the month of December when people can go online during work hours to get their shopping done. Whatever you do be clear and concise. Don´t keep people guessing and let them know what the consequences are if they´re caught (I don´t love that work, but . . .) online requesting gift-wrap when they should be on the phone with clients.
Oh, and happy holidays.