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Offices Dens of Thieves

August 09, 1987

In his July 28 column, "Sweat Shop Abuses in the High-Tech Age," Harry Bernstein criticized employers who spy on their employees. But he also should be aware of what happens to employers.

A survey by Robert Half International has revealed that conscientious workers in most workplaces are surrounded by what I would consider thieves. The report claims that the average U.S. worker wastes about 4 1/2 hours per week in non-productive ways, including idle chatter during work hours, long lunch hours, "sick" days, late arrivals, early departures for home, visits to restrooms and vending machines and long-winded, non-essential personal telephone calls.

For a small company with, say, 20 employees, this adds up to about 85 hours of lost productivity, or an out-of-pocket loss of over $400, per week. In addition, those who neglect their duties in this manner place a greater work load on the really dedicated workers.

Employees are, in effect, stealing from the company and from their dedicated fellow workers. Yet these same "thieves" want to share in the bonus money, profits (if there are any), fringe benefits and pensions. No wonder our imports are exceeding exports, and no wonder that we are losing jobs to foreign nations where workers work harder for less money. And no wonder that many customers complain about poor service, and stockholders complain about small dividends on common stocks they have bought with their hard-earned savings.

RALPH S. LITTRELL

Monterey Park

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