Every manager knows that employees are going to spend a little bit of the work day dealing with a personal issue. But a recent study found that workers spend an average of 3 hours each week handling personal business.

The survey, conducted by OfficeTeam, found that employees average about 36 minutes per day on personal tasks – adding up to 3 hours each week of non-work activities.

While managers may look the other way when employees make a few phone calls during the day, the privilege needs to be closely monitored to avoid it being abused, recommends Diane Domeyer, OfficeTeam executive director.

“There are only so many hours in the day to meet job requirements and personal obligations, and employers are aware that not all of the work day is spent on business,” she said

“The best employers take steps to accommodate the need by staff for work-life balance,” she said, citing work places that provide day cares or services to pick up dry cleaning and run errands.

“Unfortunately, employees who abuse these benefits undermine the success of the programs,” she added.

In the survey of workers, differences by gender and age emerged: Women said they take an average of 29 minutes daily to attend to personal tasks during office hours, while men admitted to spending 44 minutes each day on non-work related activities.

Younger employees also were more apt to take personal time during business hours. Survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 estimated spending an average of 45 minutes each day on personal pursuits at work, compared to 32 minutes for those between the ages of 35 and 64, and 17 minutes for workers age 65 years or older.