Study: ‘Cyberloafing’ could play a workplace wellness role

Are cute cat videos the key to employee engagement, efficiency and
workplace wellness?

Probably not, though YouTubing funny felines, surfing dogs, prancing
pangolins and
Eagles fans running into poles might not be the bane of business productivity after all. According to a
study published on
Science Direct, researchers assert that “cyberloafing can serve a potentially positive
function in that it can help employees cope with workplace boredom.”

The study weighs whether cyberloafing is an acceptable “boredom coping
mechanism” rather than an egregious “counterproductive work behavior.” It’s
a fraught question every company must contend with in the digital age,
especially as evidence mounts that
workplace boredom is just as bad (if not worse) than being overworked.

According to

The study of 463 non-instructional university personnel found that
employees who reported a relatively low workload were more likely to say
they felt bored at their job and got mentally sluggish during the day,
which in turn was associated with greater use the internet recreationally
at work.

The study asserts that boredom and low workload are the major hindrances to
productivity—not necessarily recreational internet use. Of course, there
are potential concerns.

Researcher Shani Pindek told PsyPost
that too much cyberloafing poses “cybersecurity risks” and can hurt overall
work performance. However, she continued: “Under certain stressful
situations, engaging in cyberloafing partially buffered the negative
effects of workplace stress.”

[RELATED: Distracted audiences? Mind-numbing topics? Cut through the clutter with creative corporate writing.]

If you’re concerned about the impact of workplace boredom and stress on
productivity, performance and profitability, you might consider your
company’s time-off policies. A recent survey of U.S. businesses conducted
by TSheets found

  • 573,694,800 PTO days were wasted last year.
  • One-third of all workers were prevented from taking time off.
  • More than half of respondents (51 percent) admit to misleading a
    manager about their reason for missing work.
  • Eighty-nine percent admit to coming to work sick regularly.
  • One-third say they have an unhealthy amount of stress.
  • Employees who don’t take time off report significantly higher stress
  • Sixty percent of those who get PTO work while on vacation.

You can’t expect to prevent your workers from surfing the web, though it’s
possible to influence factors that drive excessive time-wasting behaviors.
Offering more time off and more flexible work arrangements can go a long
way toward reducing stress and boredom, which appear to be the pilot and
co-pilot of Cyberloafing Airlines.

Read more about the study’s findings

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