Everything you need to know about What is Social Loafing?

While working in a group, one doesn't pay much attention or make efforts like others is called social loafing in the psychological phenomenon.

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Ignoring your responsibility towards your group task because, in the end, everyone will have to answer is social loafing. We have been through this at least once, but we never complained about it.  

What is social loafing? 

It is a social psychological phenomenon of reduced creativity, productivity, and not putting in your effort while working in a group. 

When a task is assigned to a person solely, they will complete it before the deadline, or they end up facing the consequences. It won't be the case if a task has been assigned in a group. A person who is not paying attention or not doing their part of the job is social loafing. For example, if the company's printer is not working, you leave it be instead of fixing the problem. You will think that someone else will take care of it. Not taking the initiative and leaving the job for others is a social loafing phenomenon.

Maximilien Ringlemann's investigation on social loafing phenomena

About 100 years back, a French engineer investigated the social loafing phenomena through a rope pulling game.

The bigger the group, the less effort everyone would put in while pulling the rope. A group of 8 people wasn't trying hard and putting much effort compared to 4 people. The performance of the bigger group was worse because everyone was trying to exert less force. After all, everyone thought the other person would care for the game. A group of 4 people was exerting equal force. This game pretty much described the whole social loafing phenomenon.

After this experiment, people used to call this the 'sucker effect,' 'free-rider effect,' or the 'Ringelmann effect.

Sucker and free-rider effect

The person who doesn't make an effort while working would enjoy the free-rider effect because without making an effort, they get the reward. People who do the work are the suckers. 

With the example of a group project that once was assigned to you and your classmates in your college, you will be able to understand this concept in a better way. It is obvious that people who were most disciplined, punctual, and responsible would have taken most of the responsibility to complete the project on time. At the same time, other people in the group sat back and enjoyed while others were working and putting effort into the project. 

Everyone got A+ but don't you think it is entirely an injustice to the students who did all the hard work? If you have been the sucker in the project, then you might understand how unfair this feels.

What begins social loafing in our society?

The diffusion of responsibility might be the cause of social loafing. When someone knows that the other person in the group will take care of the work and don't have to do much, they simply sit back and enjoy their time. They know that in the end, they will get the reward. 

·       The relationship the coworkers share in the group is also a big reason why social loafing occurs. Not all the member in the group shares a good bond.

·       So, the bitterness might affect the group's work, and someone might not even pay attention to the project at all. 

·       As we said above, when we talk about a group of people working in the same place, they might not pay attention to most office-related tasks just by thinking that someone else will care for them. 

·       Social facilitation, or you can call it audience effect, is when someone behaves differently when they are other people working around them.

·       If you assign them a task solely, they will work differently, but they would perform differently when you assign them a task in a group 

When the Yerkes-Dodson law was applied to this problem of audience effect, the outcome was "fewer people in the group improved the performance and accuracy of the well-practiced tasks, but it also decreased the performance of less familiar tasks." 

The conclusion of implementing this law to social loafing was that sometimes the tasks were finished on time, and not all the members paid the same attention to the assigned tasks. But they know someone else would cut them some slack and do their job.  It is important to get to know What is social loafing to get rid from it.

How to eliminate social loafing from our society?

Trust is the basic concept that would help you to remove the concept of social loafing from our society. Everyone deserves what they work for. If someone is working day and night, they should get the credit instead of sharing it with someone who doesn't even bother to work for a single day.

Michael Pryor, co-founder and head of product at Trello, has handled this problem of social loafing pretty well. 

·       He let their workers participate and take decisions for the company. His only mantra is "don't do nothing." this means he puts his trust in his workers, so they participate equally. 

·       If you don't trust your employees and always boss them around, the consequences will definitely be dire. According to Gallup, establish a trust relationship in your workplace, so every employee will feel important and will feel motivated towards their job".

·       It would help if you started trusting your employees because you hired them for a reason. While interviewing them, you thought that there was something in them that would help in making your business more successful. 

Once you start taking advice from your employees, they will show more interest in every task assigned to them, whether solely or in a group. 

Time to execute the theory into action  

It is time to execute the Don't do anything theory if you are really looking forward to getting rid of the social loafing phenomenon. Here are a few tips or actions that might help you to deal with the social loafing problems in your office:

Assign tasks to smaller groups

Some people don't feel comfortable working in larger groups, and they might start ignoring each other. Instead of creating larger groups, you can make smaller groups. This way, everyone will be able to communicate in a better way, and when there are fewer people working on the same project will put in more effort. This way, there are very few chances that social loafing would take place. 

Increase pressure on the workers

It would help if you pressurized your workers a little bit, so they will feel that they need to work hard or else they end up facing the consequences. This might not sound good, but this is the only way to get those people on who don't take their job seriously. If someone has been continuously ignoring the task that was assigned to them in a group, then simply let them know the consequences of their actions. 

Let your people know about the value of the assigned task

Every task assigned to your employees will have great importance, but how will you make them understand this? It would help if you talked about the value of the assigned task. It would help if you told them how completing the task with utmost effort will bring them a chance of getting promoted. 

It would be up to you that you make them understand your point of view. Let your employees know about the importance of the work that will bring success to your company. So, it would be better that you keep a check on the performance of everyone in the group project and constantly ask them to be more productive and creative. This is key when it comes to What is social loafing.

Appreciate everyone's effort in the group individually 

If you are rewarding everyone with the same reward in the group, then you are doing it the wrong way. There might be a social loafer in the group who hasn't done anything that deserves the reward. 

Instead of rewarding everyone with the same winnings, you need to appreciate the one who has done most of the work. It is only possible if you ask everyone about the details of the task and who has done which part of the task. This way, you will know the person who has done most of the work. Appreciating someone in the group task might make others start putting more effort into their job. 

The final words:

Social loafing is a situation that we face in our schools, college, universities, and even in our offices. Most of the time, people want to enjoy the free-rider effect, so they don't have to do much work. We have already talked about a few techniques that might work in removing or at least minimizing the social loafing effect from our society.

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