Is Wasting Time at Work Considered Stealing?
In short, yes. Spending time at work and intentionally engaging in non-work related activities outside of break times is considered a form of time theft. Time theft takes place when an employee is being paid for work they are not doing. According to researchers at St. Bonaventure University in New York, employers lose approximately $54 billion USD each year due to loss of productivity associated with employees “surfing” the web (Young, 2010).
Recreational internet use is not the only way employees waste time at work – taking extended breaks without authorization, intentionally showing up late, dealing with personal phone calls or emails while on the clock, and even spending too much time socializing with coworkers can all be considered time theft.
Time theft belongs to a larger category of adverse workplace behavior known as counterproductive workplace behavior (CWB). Broadly defined, CWB refers to all intentional workplace behavior aimed at harming an organization, its goals, or its members. One way employers try to combat the negative effects of CWB is through hiring employees less likely to engage in it. How do they do that you ask? By using pre-employment tests, such as personality based integrity tests, to help screen job applicants for both desirable and undesirable workplace behaviors.
Resources in this post:
Spector, P. E., Fox, S., Penney, L. M., Bruursema, K., Goh, A., & Kessler, S. (2006). The dimensionality of counterproductivity: Are all counterproductive behaviors created equal? Journal of vocational behavior, 68(3), 446-460.
Young, K. S., & Case, C. J. (2004). Internet abuse in the workplace: New trends in risk management. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(1), 105-111. doi: 10.1089/109493104322820174