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Are your Millennial employees Cyberloafing?

Emerald study reveals fresh graduates turn to social media when ‘trapped’ in their first role

Bingley, United Kingdom, 06 June 2016 – With unrealistic career expectations and limited alternative options, modern graduates often find themselves accepting offers for positions that they dislike. This can result in avoidance coping strategies, such as non-work-related social media, also known as ‘Cyberloafing’.

In a new study published by Emerald Group Publishing, “This is not what I wanted: The effect of avoidance coping strategy on non-work-related social media use at the workplace” from Employee Relations, authors Dr Jhony Choon Yeong Ng, Iris Yu Ting Shao and Yiping Liu - from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China - explore how the perception of being trapped can result in the adoption such strategies, and how these can influence individual performance and social media use.  

Organizations have a great deal to gain from the use of social media, such as more efficient communications between parties and better job performance. However, employees that adopt avoidance coping strategies might be compelled to use social media as a means to distract themselves from their unpleasant working context, which can lead to unfavorable organizational outcomes. 

To overcome this problem, some organizations have banned social media use or even insisted that employees allow their social media accounts to be viewed by their superiors. 

The study argues, however, that cyberloafing may actually be an unconscious form of coping strategy and self-therapeutic for fresh graduates who have grown up in the social media age, and as such should not be considered to fall under the category of ‘intentionally harmful actions’. 

It is also suggested that controlling the use of social media in the workplace may only cause disengaged employees to switch to other forms of self-distraction such as spending more time chatting with colleagues. 

The research, “This is not what I wanted: The effect of avoidance coping strategy on non-work-related social media use at the workplace”, is free to access until 9 June 2016 and can be downloaded here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/ER-12-2015-0216  

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