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For many American workers today, time’s a wastin’ - literally. According to a new survey by America Online and Salary.com, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time. As a matter of practice, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when determining employee pay. However, the America Online / Salary.com survey indicates that employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect. Salary.com calculated that employers spend $759 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

The biggest distraction for respondents? Personal Internet use. 44.7% of the more than 10,000 people polled cited web surfing as their #1 distraction at work. Socializing with co-workers came in second at 23.4%. Conducting personal business, "spacing out," running errands, and making personal phone calls were the other popular time-wasting activities in the workplace.

Top Time-Wasting Activities (%)

1 Surfing Internet (personal use) 44.7%

2 Socializing with co-workers 23.4%

3 Conducting personal business 6.8%

4 Spacing out 3.9%

5 Running errands off-premises 3.1%

6 Making personal phone calls 2.3%

7 Applying for other jobs 1.3%

8 Planning personal events 1.0%

9 Arriving late / Leaving early 1.0%

10 Other 12.5%

Employees say they’re not always to blame for this wasted time, however. 33.2% of respondents cited lack of work as their biggest reason for wasting time. 23.4% said they wasted time at work because they feel as if they are underpaid.

Top Time-Wasting Excuses (%)

1 Don’t have enough work to do 33.2%

2 Underpaid for amount of work 23.4%

3 Co-workers distract me 14.7%

4 Not enough after-work time 12.0%

5 Other 16.7%

(From a sermon by Terry Blankenship, Time: The Great Equalizer, 5/29/2012)

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