Cyberloafing refers to the actions of employees who take advantage of their corporate Internet access for personal use while pretending to do work. It commonly occurs in all offices. Cyberloafing includes sending personal emails, watching YouTube videos, spending a lot of time on social media, and even job hunting.
Cyberloafing is also known as “cyberslacking.” The term is also related to goldbricking, which means doing less work than one can. You can compare cyberloafing to lounging at home instead of doing necessary chores.
Other interesting terms…
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Cyberloafing can lead to decreased productivity and efficiency at work. That’s why company owners need to identify cyberloafers and remedy the situation.
What Causes Cyberloafing?
The reasons why employees resort to cyberloafing vary from individual to individual, but most fall under these three:
1. Poor Work Attitude
An early study found that employees who are pessimistic about their jobs are highly likely to cyberloaf to show their defiance to their boss or colleagues. This deviant behavior often occurs when employees:
- Feel some sort of injustice at work or within their organization
- Believe their job is not mentally engaging
- Do not feel committed to their work or company
2. Lack of Differentiation between Work and Personal
Some employees cyberloaf because they are unaware that what they are doing is outside the bounds of their job description. Cyberloafing often occurs because their managers encourage Internet use even if such is meant for work-related purposes only. Many cyberloafers interpret this as an approval for Internet use in general. Cyberloafing is further reinforced when employees see others engaging in the same activity.
3. Lack of Sleep
Another study revealed that cyberloafing could be due to inadequate sleep. The researchers found that employees who lack sleep find it hard to regulate their personal use of the Internet.
How can Employers Manage Cyberloafing?
Now that you know why employees cyberloaf, you can manage this behavior by:
1. Screening Employees before Hiring
Motivated and emotionally stable applicants are not likely to become cyberloafers. Determine their attitude toward work before making the final decision to hire them. Ask how they manage stress and how much time they spend on personal web surfing, for instance. That should give you a clue as to whether they would cyberloaf or not.
2. Implementing Sound Company Policies
Whenever employees feel a sense of injustice at work, they often retaliate by cyberloafing. Check your policies to see if they are somewhat limiting or fair for all your employees. Make sure they are adequately implemented, too.
3. Encouraging Work-Life Balance
Company owners should understand that cyberloafing is not entirely negative. While it might take away an employee’s attention to work-related activities, it also helps them relieve stress, making them more productive. That said, allow them a few breaks and spend some time on personal Internet use to boost their morale.
Cyberloafing can be a boon to productivity, but being too strict with Internet use can have the same effects. The trick, therefore, is to let employees find a balance.