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Amazon Prime Day – The latest cybershopping headache for employers

July 15, 2017

By Kristen Cifolelli, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

If Cyber Monday during the holidays isn’t bad enough with on-line shopping distracting employees and impacting productivity, now employers have to deal with the latest online shopping “holiday” mid-year with Amazon Prime Day.  For those who aren’t familiar with Amazon Prime Day, it is the mid-summer sales equivalent of Christmas in July.

Amazon Prime Day began in 2015 to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary.  Amazon Prime Day is a shopping spectacular in which Amazon slashes prices on a wide variety of items for its Prime Membership holders.  Now in its third year, Prime Day 2017 began at 9pm, on July 10th and ran for 30 hours ending earlier today at 2:59am EST, July 12th.  Throughout the Prime Day event, new deals were offered every five minutes on more than 100,000 products on its sites.

According to a recent study by Market Track, LLC, the leading provider of advertising, promotional, and pricing intelligence solutions, Prime Day is growing.  In their nationwide survey of 1,200 consumers, 58% state that they plan to shop Prime Day sales, up from the 34% that participated last year.  The study also showed that 89% of consumers regularly shop on Amazon, with 43% of consumers stating they shop on the site at least once a week.

As more and more consumers are attracted by the conveniences of on-line shopping, Amazon has seen an increase in the number of individuals with Prime Accounts.  The increase in Prime Account holders and the publicity around the Prime Day shopping event is driving up shopping traffic. 

Employers can only assume that as shopping activity around the Amazon event continues to build over time, it is going to spill over into the workplace with internet usage possibly mirroring trends of Cyber Monday shopping.  According to Career Builder’s 2016 annual Cyber Monday survey more than half of workers (53%) say they spend at least some work time holiday shopping on the Internet, up 3% from last year. Of this group, 43% spend an hour or more doing so, compared to 42% from last year.  

Employers may want to pro-actively add this to their calendar to plan for next year.  As employers decide, what, if any action they should be taking to monitor or limit internet activity, the following should be considered.  Ensure the organization’s handbook and internet usage policies are updated and provide detailed expectations.  If personal internet usage during work time is completely banned, make sure the policy reflects it.  Clearly outline personal usage guidelines if employees are only allowed to surf the web during breaks and lunch or if they have the freedom to surf at their discretion, as long as it is with moderation and all work gets completed timely.

If the organization plans on monitoring internet sites and search company-owned computers, smartphones, and tablets, employees should be aware of it ahead of time.  As with all company policies, an internet monitoring and usage policy should be distributed to all employees.  Employers should have either an electronic or written signed acknowledgement confirming their employees have received and understand the policy.

As internet shopping is only going to continue to increase, employers may want to consider offering internet flexibility to help accommodate employee needs, instead of fighting what most likely is a losing battle.  Instead, focus on ensuring that employees know the importance of maintaining productivity and reward them for appropriately balancing work and personal business with appropriate use of the internet.  

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