Ruth Clark mentioned this in her session at ATD Conference this past year. But what does it mean?
The context in which I refer to the term ‘loafing’ most frequently is when talking about my cats. You know, when they enter a state of comfort that resembles a loaf of bread. Social loafing is kind of like that. However, in this context, individuals are choosing a comfort level of not participating in a greater whole.
Social loafing involves an individual producing less effort in a group than they would individually.
Whether that is participating in a university lecture or in a work meeting…it involves not engaging in situations wherein collaboration is implied and/or required. We see this a lot in meetings where individuals (usually lower in the organizational hierarchy) feel hesitation related to asserting themselves or their opinions. Alternatively, you see this in an education context when group work is involved and you have someone who is socially loafing/opting out of contributing to the greater efforts of the group.
How do you mitigate social loafing?
There are a few strategies you can employ to mitigate social loafing:
- Focusing on the achievement of the group instead of assessing individuals within the group
- Employing peer reviews; this will foster greater feelings of individual accountability to the group as a whole
- Specifying individual roles within the group or allowing individuals within the group to choose their role
- Include agendas for each group meeting to keep individuals focused and on track