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Laziness at work: what it is and how to fight it

Working in a group can be compelling but also demeaning when you find yourself teaming up with people who consciously choose to “slack off.” No matter how much effort and seriousness you put into it, if you have the misfortune of collaborating with a lazy, distracted or uninvolved colleague, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to bring home the required result.

But do not despair: once the problem has been identified, it is only necessary to find the solution. Experts have already done so, providing their recipes to mitigate the counter-effects of so-called “social laziness.” Which, at work, can set the jaws for important successes. Let’s find out together what it is.

What is social laziness?

By social laziness, we mean the behavior that pushes people to work less when in a group. Or if you prefer, the tendency of certain subjects to exert less effort, to achieve a goal, than when they are alone. In practice, it is not certain that they are slackers or lazy by profession, but of people who can lose their bite and motivation when they are called to work with others. And that, in a more or less conscious or more or less intentional way, can smash important projects.

Let’s take a practical example: if the boss assigns you a task involving other colleagues, you can guarantee the quality and punctuality of your performance, but you certainly can’t “put your hand on the fire” on seriousness and commitment. Of the others. What if you realize that your teammates are not doing their duty once the project is underway? What if you risk a “lecture” by the boss due to the disorganization of others? Don’t lose your head and try to think about what is best to do.

As mentioned above, the colleagues with whom you have to complete the project may not be inveterate time wasters, but only “social lazy,” who struggle to give their best when involved in collective projects. Try to approach the matter with clarity and explain to them your expectations: the result could be a lack of clarity or poor communication between you. If you do not come to a head, then it is the case to deepen the question and read up on social laziness. To which interesting studies have been dedicated that can help you “find the square.”

What to do: the remedies for social laziness

Therefore, assuming that “social laziness” can represent a serious problem for those who have to share tasks and responsibilities with colleagues, let’s try to understand how to prevent the virus of mistrust and sloth from destroying important projects. First of all, it is necessary to focus on:

Group organization: it is important that specific tasks are assigned to all team members and that everyone feels valued in the same way;

Clarity of the objectives to be achieved: all members of the group must have a clear idea of ​​what they must do and within what time frame they must complete their tasks;

Involvement of collaborators: all work team members must understand that their contribution is fundamental to achieving the final goal. In short, they must take responsibility and realize that everyone’s success depends on their commitment and professionalism.

Selection of components: to avoid harmful dynamics within the group, it is good to select people carefully and avoid involving too many (max 10).

Scientific studies have shown that completing a task (especially if it is particularly onerous) provides a high physical and mental well-being connected to the release, by the brain, of a chemical substance called dopamine. Give yourself the pleasure of sharing success with colleagues and do your utmost to ensure that your career takes off and your business thrives. Checking an item from the to-do list is priceless, especially if you do it with others.

The causes of social laziness

The first thing to understand is what drives people to give less when they work in a team. Among the main causes is the perception that their contribution is not essential to achieving the goal. This is the reasoning that those “social lazy” who have little regard for themselves and their abilities (who lack self-esteem) tend to make and who are convinced that their participation has no relevance.

According to experts, grows when the goal is perceived as achievable and of value and decreases when it appears unimportant and unachievable. Which very often also depends on the type of group that is formed. If within the team, there are collaborative people, respectful of others, and devoted to sacrifice, the rate of social laziness should go down; while if the group is mainly made up of lazy, distracted, and not very involved subjects, it is destined to rise.

And to hinder the achievement of the final result could also be the group size: the scholars have found that, in particularly large work teams, the probability that some members choose not to participate (convinced as they are that the others will take care of everything) is higher than in smaller groups where to coordinate they are few and selected people.

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