Americans Waste More Than 2 Hours a Day at Work, Costing Companies $759 Billion a Year, According to and America Online Survey

DULLES, Va. & NEEDHAM, Mass.--()--July 11, 2005--

  Personal Internet Use Ranked As Top Time-Wasting Activity; Insurance Industry Leads In Time-Wasted; Missouri is #1 State for Time-Wasters  

For many American workers today, time's a wastin' - literally. According to a Web survey by America Online and, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per day, not counting lunch. That's far more time than employers expect. Over the course of a year (and even after accounting for time employers expect to be wasted), that adds up to $759 billion on salaries for which companies receive no apparent benefit.

The research, which was conducted through the AOL Find a Job site on, the AOL(R) service and's Salary Wizard, involved more than 10,044 respondents (employees) who indicated that the number one way they fritter away time at work is personal Internet use (e.g., email, IM, online polls, interactive games, message boards, chat rooms, etc.). Personal Internet use was cited by 44.7% of respondents as their primary time-wasting activity at work. Socializing with co-workers was the second most popular form of wasting time at work (23.4% of respondents). Conducting personal business, "spacing out," running errands, and making personal phone calls were other popular time-wasting activities in the workplace.

But are workers really expected to work non-stop eight hours a day? According to a follow-up survey of corporate human resource managers, employers actually expect the average employee to waste about an hour per day, in addition to the worker's lunch hour.

"A certain amount of slacking off is already built into the salary structure," says Bill Coleman, senior vice president at "Our survey results show that workers on average are wasting a little more than twice what their employers expect. That's a startling figure. Although in some cases this extra wasted time might be considered 'creative waste' - time that may well have a positive impact on the company's culture, work environment, and even business results. Personal Internet use and casual office conversations often turn into new business ideas or suggestions for gaining operating efficiencies."

"It's interesting to note that the Internet was cited as the leading time-wasting activity. It goes to show how integrated it has become to the daily functions of our personal and professional lives," said Samara Jaffe, director of careers/AOL Find a Job, America Online. "Today, there are so many useful tools and Websites on the Internet that have enabled people to become more efficient with accomplishing multiple tasks in a shorter amount of time."

The AOL and survey results offer a glimpse into how employees waste time, why they do it, where they live, and where they work:

Top Time-Wasting Activities

Activities                         % of Time-Wasters
1.  Surfing Internet (personal use)      44.7%
2.  Socializing with co-workers          23.4%
3.  Conducting personal business         06.8%
4.  Spacing out                          03.9%
5.  Running errands off-premises         03.1%
6.  Making personal phone calls          02.3%
7.  Applying for other jobs              01.3%
8.  Planning personal events             01.0%
9.  Arriving late / Leaving early        01.0%
10. Other                                12.5%

Top Excuses for Time-Wasting

Excuses                              % of Time-Wasters
1.  Don't have enough work to do          33.2%
2.  Underpaid for amount of work I do     23.4%
3.  Co-workers distract me                14.7%
4.  Not enough evening or weekend time    12.0%
5.  Other                                 16.7%

Top Time-Wasting States

States                      Time-Wasted(a)
1.  Missouri                3.2 hrs/day
2.  Indiana                 2.8 hrs/day
3.  Kentucky                2.8 hrs/day
4.  Wisconsin               2.8 hrs/day
5.  Nevada                  2.7 hrs/day
6.  Oklahoma                2.7 hrs/day
7.  Virginia                2.7 hrs/day
8.  Pennsylvania            2.6 hrs/day
9.  Connecticut             2.5 hrs/day
10. Idaho                   2.5 hrs/day

Top Time-Wasting Industries Industries

Industries                                 Time-Wasted(a)
1.  Insurance                              2.5 hrs/day
2.  Public Sector (Non-Education)          2.4 hrs/day
3.  Research & Development                 2.3 hrs/day
4.  Education                              2.2 hrs/day
5.  Software & Internet                    2.2 hrs/day
6.  Specialized Trades                     2.1 hrs/day
7.  Automotive (Non-Manufacturing)         2.1 hrs/day
8.  Retail                                 2.1 hrs/day
9.  Marketing & Communications             2.0 hrs/day
10. Finance & Banking                      1.8 hrs/day

(a)   Average hours wasted -- per person, per day.

Here are some other interesting facts about time-wasted at work:

-- Men vs. Women: Men and women waste about the same amount of time per day (approximately 2.1 hours). This, despite the fact that most HR managers surveyed suspected that women waste more time at work than men.

-- Youngsters vs. Seniors: As the following statistics show, the older you are, the less time you waste at work:

Year of Birth        Wasted Hrs/Pay (Avg.)
1930-1949             0.50 hrs/day
1950-1959             0.68 hrs/day
1960-1969             1.19 hrs/day
1970-1979             1.61 hrs/day
1980-1985             1.95 hrs/day

-- Cats vs. Mice: When setting employee salaries, corporate human resource managers assume that employees will waste 0.94 hours per day. However, those managers suspect that employees waste 1.60 hours per day. In fact, employees admit wasting 2.09 hours per day. In other words, mice spend significantly more time playing than cats (absent or otherwise) suppose.

For more information about the survey results, read the article "Wasted Time at Work Costing Companies Billions" on the AOL Find a Job site, which is available on the Web at (click on Jobs) or on the AOL service at AOL Keyword: Jobs. AOL Find a Job, powered by, gives job seekers access to nearly 1 million continuously updated job postings, representing more than 30,000 of the top employers in virtually every industry and field.

Survey Methodology

America Online and conducted in-depth research relating to time wasted at work, among 10,044 respondents (including users, AOL members, Salary Wizard users, and corporate human resources professionals). Through a survey on the AOL Find a Job site, respondents were asked to indicate how much time they wasted in an average workday, assuming a 40-hour (8-hour per day) workweek. Demographic information (including respondent geography, job category, and gender) was also collected in the study. Data was analyzed by's team of Certified Compensation Professionals.

About America Online, Inc.

America Online, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Based in Dulles, Virginia, America Online is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services.

About, Inc. is a leading provider of compensation solutions providing data, applications, and services to enterprises, small businesses and individuals.'s personal tools are used and trusted by millions.'s enterprise software helps companies manage their compensation expenditures with real-time, decision-ready data and analytical tools. Backed by a team of Certified Compensation Professionals, is your partner in compensation.

Dan Malachowski, 781-726-7842
AOL Corporate Communications
Kathie Lentz-Brockman, 703-265-3286
Schwartz Communications
Liz Serotte or Amanda Sina, 781-684-0770

Dan Malachowski, 781-726-7842
AOL Corporate Communications
Kathie Lentz-Brockman, 703-265-3286
Schwartz Communications
Liz Serotte or Amanda Sina, 781-684-0770