Social loafing is a process in which people put in minor effort on a task when they’re working in a group, compared to when they’re working solely. Researchers work on the effectiveness of groups study why this phenomenon occurs and what can be done to avert it.
Social loafing is one of the causes why groups occasionally work ineffectively. Although social loafing is a common happening, it doesn’t always occur — and ways can be taken to promote people to put in further effort on group programs.
Factors affecting social loafing may include expectations of co-worker performance, project meaningfulness and culture.
Read: Social Anxiety
Comparison to Related Theories
Social loafing is connected to another theory in psychology, the approach of diffusion of responsibility. According to this theory, people feel less responsible for acting in a given status if there are other people present who could also impersonate. For both social loafing and redundancy of responsibility, a corresponding strategy can be used to combat our tendency for inactivity when we’re part of a group assigning people special, individual projects to be responsible for.
Examples of social loafing
Group homework projects, tug of war, and an entertainer asking his audience to shout are all examples of social loafing. The more you include excessive people to a group, the more effort of total group declines. Tug of War is the best example as it’s where Maximillian Ringelmann originally found it.
What is social loafing in the workplace?
Social loafing is a natural phenomenon whereby employees try to minimize their effort when working in a group rather than on their own. It is a pervasive occurrence that minimizes employee engagement and organizational effectiveness.
Causes of Social Loafing
Anyone who’s ever worked in a group task has endured this intellectual phenomenon first hand. These are the reasons psychologists have come up with to interpret this aggravating malingering.
1. Lack of Motivation
When an individual lacks interest or encouragement in completing a certain task, they’re more likely to engage in social loafing when assigned to a group.
2. Reduced Sense of Responsibility
When an individual isn’t personally responsible for any given task, and they know that their individual hard works don’t have any impact on the overall outgrowth, they’re more likely to engage in social loafing.
This diffusion of responsibility is analogous to what influences observer effect. Observer effect is the psychological phenomenon where people are less likely to help someone one in need when there are bunch of other people involved in the scene. Observers feel they’re not personally accountable and might even feel someone else present can aid the person in need.
Expectations from other members of the group can also cause social loafing. If the individual expects other members to ease off he/ she most likely will too. In an unalike scenario though, being in the group of high achievers might give the feeling of inferiority and hence create social loafing allowing the other members to handle utmost if not all of the work.
When groups are larger the members may become more anonymous. Suppose you do something on your own: in case, if it goes well you get the entire goal, if it goes opposite you get all the blame. In a group both blame and success is spread. So there’s fewer carrot and low stick.
5. No standards
More frequently groups don’t have set standards so there’s no clear standard for which to set.
6. Group Size
The group size contributes to social loafing for one simple argument; there are other people to slack off. When a someone is in a lower group, he/ she is more likely to feel answerable and contribute to the given task. So, as the group gets bigger, the individual feels less and less responsible.
Read: Parasocial Relationships
How to Prevent Social Loafing?
Now that you understand what social loafing is, we can now come across into how to prevent or minimize cases of social loafing in any team.
1. Delegate your tasks deliberately and specifically
When figuring out who needs to do what, don’t just pick the one closest to you or the first one to say they’ll handle it. Before anything else, consider their power, past acts, and how they might function together with a possible teammate. However, it’s stylish to have as many members as possible, If they need to be in a platoon.
Also, when managing multiple tasks, you have to be veritably specific to avoid distraction. Tell each person what they’ve to do, what resources they’ll be using, and when you need their final work. Make their projects as clear to them as possible, and always go for reasonable questions.
Beneficial and specific task delegation can make your squad members feel relevant to the task. However, they will know the applicability of their work and how their result will affect the team, If you outline their task to them rightly.
2. Communicate well and often
Working on a program with a team can be a challenging task for everyone involved. Without proper communication between members, sudden issues can arise, which will affect the entire strategy. Still, make sure to set up effective communication lines and proper split channels, if you don’t want misinterpretations and further inefficiencies to occur.
3. Reduce menial projects
Menial tasks are repetitious yet necessary tasks that take up a lot of your time. So, it can effortlessly lead to burnout and, ultimately, if you add pressing deadlines and complex work on top of these workloads.
Cutting back on the menial, time- consuming tasks will free up everyone’s time and energy, permitting them to concentrate on what really matters. Each situation will be different, but these are some ways that you can reduce your menial projects.
4. Use the right management tools
Although starting your task on a good note is formerly a significant step towards your plan, you need to discover ways to maintain this kind of performance all the way to the finish line. Without competent software, it becomes more problematic to coordinate with your team and easier to ruin your records.
These inefficiencies can reduce provocation and thus result in social loafing. To keep your task members as operative as possible, make sure you run a tight ship with the right software.
5. Honor everyone’s effort
Without peculiar recognition and support from leaders, people are less likely to feel appreciated and are more likely to slide into the background.
This is why recognition and assistance are some of the main driving forces of work motivation. You can drastically reduce cases of social loafing. Give credit where credit is needed and making sure that you regularly thank everyone for their hard works.
Understanding Social Loafing
The psychology of social loafing might feel intimidating. Still, if you know what drives it, you can unfold the right countermeasures. There are a lot more factors than we’ve talked over, of course. In general, a social loafer is born when there’s little consideration given to each individual of the squad. This is specifically dangerous for squad leaders and administrators, who tend to concentrate more on results than their relationship with their colleagues.
By minimizing social loafing, you’re not just creating a better relationship with employees – you’re also securing a more effective, more productive project.
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