Running Your Business

How to Maintain Employee Productivity (and Security) on Cyber Monday


  • You can restrict retail sites from your organization's network on Cyber Monday, but you still might not be able to stop staff from shopping

  • To prevent a significant dip in productivity, it's a good idea to have a definitive computer usage policy in place

  • Consider sending a company-wide email with secure online shopping tips

Posted by November 18, 2018

Every year, employee productivity typically takes a nosedive on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day on the calendar.

Even at your organization, the temptation to shop might be too great for your fellow employees to resist. That’s why you should make your company’s policies known ahead of time. And since your colleagues will likely be using work computers to shop online, you’ll need to educate them on how to shop securely.

Employees Can’t Resist Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is growing in popularity. In 2017, the retail holiday’s online sales rose by 17 percent to $6.6 billion, making it the biggest single online shopping day in U.S. history. It was also the first $2 billion mobile shopping day in history.

According to a 2016 study conducted by Robert Half Technology, nearly half of employees say they typically shop at work on Cyber Monday. With so much hype about Cyber Monday, it’s likely a temptation that your coworkers will have a tough time resisting.

Have a Company-Wide Computer Usage Policy in Place

Most employees aren’t aware of their organization’s policies when it comes to online shopping. In fact, many workers might believe in the old adage, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” For this reason, HR leaders should educate their employees about company-wide computer usage policies before Cyber Monday.

If you so choose, you can ban some sites altogether so employees simply can’t access them while at work. But this can get a little murky when it comes to Cyber Monday. If you restrict access to Amazon.com, a favorite shopping site, what would happen if an employee needs to use the site for legitimate work purposes?

Many experts agree that it’s best not to try to ban shopping altogether on Cyber Monday, but to provide guidelines instead. For instance, will employees be allowed to shop online? If so, should they only do so during their lunch breaks? Or will you make an exception for Cyber Monday, as long as they get all of their work done?

According to the study by Robert Half Technology, 64 percent of employees shop on Cyber Monday during their lunch break, but 43 percent shop whenever they’re bored and 35 percent shop while browsing online for something else. It’s a good idea to also make it clear in your computer usage policy that there are no expectations of privacy on work computers and devices—sites visited (and other activities) may be monitored.

Encourage Secure Shopping

If you’re taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude when it comes to Cyber Monday, then you should make sure employees know how to shop securely. Thirty-nine percent of workers who shop on Cyber Monday use a work-issued computer or device, but unfortunately, most employees have not received security training.

Here are some safe practices you can encourage (and enforce) on Cyber Monday:

  • Remind your team members to use unique passwords on all shopping accounts. This can be managed with security extensions like LastPass.
  • Alert your colleagues to common phishing schemes, so they don’t click on fake email links from “hoax” shopping sites, for example.
  • All staff should only shop on secure, encrypted retail websites.
  • Ask your fellow employees to beware of shopping apps with few or no reviews, as well as those that seek to access too much unnecessary information (like photos or texts).
  • Make sure all antivirus, firewalls and malware programs are updated. (Your organization’s IT department may already be handling this.)
  • Ensure the IT department has backed up all computers and devices before Cyber Monday, in case an attack still gets through.
  • Remind everyone to avoid downloading any programs related to Cyber Monday to work devices. You might even want to temporarily ban downloads for that day.

It’s a good idea to send your coworkers an email the day—or week—before Cyber Monday, reminding them about the organization’s computer usage policy for the big shopping day. Consider including a few secure shopping habits from the suggestions above, so they can browse safely.

Cyber Monday may result in some loss of employee productivity, but you can hedge your bets by having a defined policy in place that your colleagues know about. You’ll have a tough time stopping them from shopping completely, but you can keep your network secure with rules and guidelines.

Looking for tools and resources to help your fellow employees manage their dental benefits? Check out the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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