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How to Combat Cyberloafing

A growing concern for employers in a post-COVID, work-from-home world is the fact that some remote workers are less productive.  Studies have found that instead of diligently tackling work-related assignments, many are surfing the internet for personal enjoyment – a practice known as ‘cyberloafing.’  While workers have been cyberloafing for years, the practice has exploded with the rise in social media’s popularity, the resultant explosion of online media content, and the popularity of working from home.

As one can imagine, it is considerably harder for businesses to monitor the productivity of employees working from home. Cyberloafing is one more serious distraction that is hard for employers to stop. The good news is that while cyberloafing may be a relatively new problem, its root cause is not. Employers are using their past experiences and best practices to help combat and defeat (or at least minimize) cyberloafing.

Why do employees cyberloaf?

A recent study conducted at the Kozminski University in Poland took a closer look at the causes and effects of cyberloafing and its impact on workers’ productivity.

The Kozminski University researchers studied over 200 workers in Ukraine’s retail jewelry industry.  Their research included asking questions about workers’ cyberloafing habits, workload, job confidence, time management skills, as well as their overall job satisfaction. Perhaps not surprisingly, the researchers found (i) workers who had good job satisfaction were less likely to cyberloaf, (ii) heavy workloads made workers less happy at work and more prone to cyberloaf, and (iii) confident workers were happier at work which led to fewer instances of cyberloafing. The researchers also found a correlation between good time management skills (which leads to greater job satisfaction) and less cyberloafing.

Job satisfaction, cyberloafing, and workplace performance

While the Kozminski study looked at the core issues surrounding the new phenomenon of cyberloafing, what it uncovered was not all that groundbreaking. It has long been reported that an employee’s job satisfaction has a direct impact on how they perform and behave at work. Employees often grow to dislike their jobs when they are constantly overworked. Such employees also become doubtful about their ability to perform their job satisfactorily. These core issues lead employees to seek stress-reduction techniques and avoidance vehicles to alleviate their discontent at work. Cyberloafing is just the latest coping mechanism employees are trying.

Cyberloafing can take many forms – watching YouTube or Netflix videos, online shopping, scrolling through social media accounts, or even reading updated newsfeeds.  The fact is, there are countless ways unengaged employees can find to waste time online.

What’s an employer to do?

First and foremost, since happy and engaged employees are more productive, you should first measure employee job satisfaction. Next, determine what it is about their jobs that makes employees happy and/or unhappy. Job satisfaction surveys are a quick way to assess sentiments within your workforce. With that information, employers can design programs to enhance the positives and minimize the negatives.

One key warning, if you are unwilling to make needed changes learned from the survey results, don’t survey your staff. Few things hurt morale more than opinion surveys that lead to no change.

Regarding time management shortcomings, businesses can offer training on the topic and implement new practices. Your solution can range from offering basic prioritizing skills training to the use of AI.

Finally, you can set clear goals and priorities for your employees. You can encourage your employees to take structured breaks, so they have time to ensure they are focusing on the goals and priorities you have set.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. But the first step is often the hardest, so get ready to take the leap!


So, while cyberloafing may be new, its root cause is not.  Simply put, if employers can engage their workers with satisfying work in a positive and constructive work environment, they will more likely than not have happy employees.  And happy employees tend to be high-producing employees and less prone to cyberloafing.  Good luck!

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state, and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.