Social Loafing

7 Useful Strategies to Discourage and Uproot Social Loafing

We have all had episodes where we have silently witnessed social loafing take place. It is a phenomenon that runs hard when groups are at work. In this piece, we discuss what social loafing is, and what are the strategies to avoid the phenomenon. ...
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
An organization could be defined by the functions it performs. It also has its identity rooted in the identity that has been held by their employees. If you are currently working for an organization, being a permanent employee or on a contractual basis, you may have observed that there are a number of your colleagues who take work a bit too lightly. On the other hand, there are people who do nothing else but work. The disparity that has been created between the two groups is striking. It is at this point in time, that the ones who are working hard to hoard their share of pennies are being acknowledged in the same manner as the ones who are not very keen on putting their best foot forward, however, are still reaping the same benefits. This may be an elementary method of putting the concept in place, but this is precisely what social loafing is all about. Social loafing can occur at various levels of the organization. It can be at the workers level elevating itself to the managerial level.

What is Social Loafing?

Social loafing is a phenomenon that occurs commonly in a profit, or non-profit organization, where there are individuals who are not thoroughly geared up with a positive attitude to invest their best in the tasks assigned by the authorities of the company, which culminates with a certain negative disparity between the set goal and the resultant outcome. They are typically least bothered about the way the functioning of the group has been progressing. It is a concept that takes place when there is a group that needs to work in sync with each other. Each one of them has to make a contributing effort in making the task in hand a success. In psychology, social loafing quotes an extremely easy example to understand the concept with clarity. Researchers conducted an experiment where a dyad of students was considered. They were asked to clap as loudly as possible. The next step was to include another student and ask them to clap with all their gusto. This continued as they kept on adding students one by one into the group, until the group became big enough, to check the true potency of the experiment. It was observed that as the group expanded the individual effort of clapping lessened. We may say that the 'responsibility' that they felt towards doing their best in their clapping goal was diminishing with each, passing stage.

What are the Strategies to Discourage Social Loafing?

There are certain strategies that are helpful in curbing social loafing and decreasing the number of social loafers in the organization, thereby, converting them to social facilitators. Here are some plans that you could put to practice.

Strategy #1 - Loaf Around Only When You are Meant To
Social loafing may be encouraged only during breaks, meal timings and when there are fun activities conducted in the organization. On the note of generality it is important that one puts in his hard work and makes the best of his time and contributes significantly to the output goal set by the company.

Strategy#2 - Understand What Your Employees are Doing
Social loafing affects the way people work and distracts those who are trying to put their mind at the task that has been assigned to them. When they find that others are not working as they ought to be there are morale issues that crop up. It is imperative that an authority addresses the issue and makes amendments. Taking employees to task is not the answer, instead gradually changing the culture of the company is the key.

Strategy #3 - Supervision Helps
Supervision is important. You may say that supervision is required when students are involved as they could indulge in destructive behavior, however, you may be taken by surprise to take a note of the difference it makes when you are inspecting what employees are doing. Taking a casual stroll in the office premises can make a huge difference and may help curb social loafing. This is indeed a subtle way to make sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to do and not what they want to do.

Strategy #4 - Arrange Teamwork Games
You may have games that proliferate teamwork and dedicate a day to fun and frolic minus the work targets and goals. You may maintain specific days as fun days and have your employees indulge in games that enhance their team building skills and make them all the more capable of working in a team without loafing around time. You may allow employees to hold competitions, acknowledge them with awards and have them interact with their fellow colleagues. In short, let them loaf around to their hearts content, to curb social loafing on days that are marked productive.

Strategy #5 - Interact With Employees
Effective communication is the key. Make sure that the employees are in the position to discuss with you the issues related to their job. Make sure that they are open and transparent in their perspectives with you. While you take a casual stroll around, you may interact with some employees asking them what they are doing and what is it that they would like to change in the task assigned to them. If their suggestions are lucrative, you may well think and apply them. Nevertheless, if their plans cannot be implemented, explanation as to why their plans are not worth putting into practice must be given with due respect.

Strategy #6 - Ask Questions
Make sure that when you come around for your statutory stroll, ask questions to employees that are related to work and how the assigned task is taking shape. If you see someone loafing away their time a casual reminder to them is what is required. Thus, trying and asking questions at that point of time when loafing is noticed, will let the employee know that he has been seen and notice has been taken. He will analyze that these activities that he indulges himself into which are not the least related to work, may harm his career growth and mar his appraisal and promotion prospects.

Strategy #7 - Keep Them Motivated
If you feel that the motivation meters of your employees have dipped, make sure that you hold a meeting where you address their problem and inform them that their efforts are being noticed and they will soon be rewarded for the same. This will cut down on social loafing activities and make them feel all the more responsible towards their task.

Even after applying these strategies to curb social loafing, the activities continue, it is to your benefit that you confront the employee or employees and ask them to change their strategies of work. You must make it a point to let them know that excessive loafing will not be tolerated, however, interaction with colleagues during breaks to build healthy workplace environment is completely encouraged.