Market Overview

Which Industry Spawns the Laziest Employees?


Take a guess, then ask yourself, “How many hours does the average person waste per 8-hour workday?”

According to the data from this infographic by the Online Courses Resource (which cites a survey by America Online (NYSE: AOL) and, American workers are wasting an average of 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday.

Things get really interesting when the infographic breaks down the time-wasters by industry. The top five includes the insurance industry (2.5 hours), the non-educational side of the public sector (2.4 hours), research and development (2.3 hours), education (2.2 hours), and software and Internet (2.2 hours).

Wasting Time & Money

To be fair, the industries presented in the infographic need to be clarified (and more narrowly specified) before we can make the assumption that they spawn lazy employees. Yes, we have all heard about the politicians and other public workers who spend their days playing games and surfing porn sites. But is it fair to say that an education professional, whose hours at work may not be easy to quantify, is wasting time?

The same could be said for anyone in the R&D field. More often than not, research and development is a crapshoot of a task that can send the researcher all over the place before he or she finds the appropriate path. Was the time spent during those hours a “waste”? Or should the researcher be allowed to conduct a proper search – whether it seems like a waste of time or not – and get the job done right?

Unfortunately, all of the defenses in the world may not be able to overcome one key component of the infographic: the fact that employees are supposedly the ones who admitted they waste 2.09 hours at work every single day. In fact, the infographic claims that HR professionals “assumed” employees were wasting less than one hour, and “suspected” that employees were wasting a little over 90 minutes. (Ironically, the data fails to show how many hours HR professionals wasted contemplating how many hours other employees were wasting.)

Why, exactly, are people wasting so much time? Thirty-three percent of the people surveyed claimed that they just don't have enough work. Twenty-three percent say they are underpaid for their work, an apparent justification of being lazy. Nearly 15% blame the waste on their co-workers, who supposedly distract them. An amusing 12% say they waste time at work because they don't have enough after-work time. Finally, 16.7% simply chose the “other” category, which likely includes the porn-surfing moments that were mentioned above.

Even more amusing is the data from a 2010 survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St., which found that employees waste 1.24 hours on Facebook and Twitter per week, roughly 30 minutes each playing games and sending e-mails (personal e-mails, I assume), and nearly 15 minutes sending instant messages. I wonder how this data might have changed now that many employers encourage their workers to use social media on the job.

Finally we have the top five states for time-wasting workers, which include Missouri (3.2 hours per day, amounting to $28.1 billion in salary dollars wasted annually), Indiana (2.8 hours per day, $25.1 billion wasted), Kentucky (2.8 hours per day, $15.4 billion wasted), Wisconsin (2.8 hours per day, $23.8 billion wasted), and Nevada (2.7 hours per day, $9.8 billion wasted).

That's a lot of waste.

Follow me @LouisBedigian

Posted-In: America Online Online Courses Resource Survey.comEconomics Be Your Own Boss Tech Best of Benzinga


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