Stop social loafing cross functional teams

When working in a team, there’s no such thing as “just an individual.”

You’re working with other people. And sometimes, that means you have to make sacrifices for the sake of your team. But what if those sacrifices undermine your work? What if you need to be more productive because everyone else is slacking off?

Social loafing is a phenomenon in which individuals reduce their effort when they work in groups. It can be especially problematic in teams assembled from different departments since people may need to be more accustomed to working together. This effect can be reduced by ensuring everyone on the team feels like they’re part of the same group and that everyone understands their individual roles.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can stop social loafing from becoming a problem for your company, and here are some causes, negative effects, and tips on how to stop it.


1. Lack of Recognition

The problem with social loafing is that it reduces efficiency. For example, if an individual doesn’t feel appreciated at work, they may not feel motivated to put in the extra effort. This means they’ll be less likely to complete tasks on time or meet deadlines, which can negatively affect their career.

Social loafing also reduces productivity when people who usually are highly motivated and productive underachieve due to the lack of motivation. In other words, when there’s no recognition or appreciation for good performance, people tend to slack off and underachieve because they don’t feel like putting in extra effort for the sake of it.

2. Difficult Tasks

One of the reasons why social loafing occurs is that difficult tasks can be more challenging and frustrating when other people are involved. This is true even if you’re not actually doing anything complicated — just knowing that others are doing something difficult makes it seem more challenging to do yourself.

For example, imagine yourself sitting at your desk at work trying to complete an online survey about your hobbies and interests. If this survey was easy and didn’t require much effort or thought, then completing it wouldn’t be very stressful or frustrating at all.

3. Fear of Failure

The most common causes of social loafing include fear of failure and fear of being judged. When an individual is afraid of failing or being judged negatively, they’ll work less hard because their self-esteem is more important than the group’s success.

In order to overcome this tendency, leaders can encourage employees by sharing their own failures or challenges while working on projects. This shows that even successful leaders struggled at some point and gives employees a sense of security that if they fail at something, it won’t be the end of their careers because it happened to someone else too.

4. Poor Communication

Social loafing is caused by poor communication and a lack of trust within the team:

  • If the team does not trust each other;
  • If the team members don’t feel that their contributions are valued.

To combat social loafing, you should ensure that your team members feel like their contributions are valued and that they have a sense of ownership over the project. You should also help your team members communicate clearly with each other so they can resolve any issues before they become bigger problems.

5. Distractions

Social loafing can be caused by distractions and not personal motivation. People are more likely to slack off when they’re surrounded by others who are slacking off. If someone is not working hard, it makes others feel like they don’t have to work hard too, so they stop. If someone doesn’t care about their job, neither will anyone else.

Negative Effects

1. Decreased Motivation

Social loafing has been shown to lead to decreased motivation because it makes it seem like less effort is needed. If one or two people are doing all the work, then less effort is required on everyone else’s part. This may lead some team members to become unmotivated and stop working as hard as they would have if they were working alone or with fewer people on their team.

For example, suppose you’re working on a project with two people — one person you’ve worked with before and another who works remotely and whom you’ve never met. You might be more motivated to work hard if you were working on the project alone or if all three of you were meeting face-to-face for regular meetings.

2. No Ownership of Work

In a group, there’s often no clear leader, so it can be difficult for others to assign responsibility for tasks or projects. This can cause confusion about who is responsible for what, leading to poor performance throughout the group.

3. Lower Quality of Output

Social loafing occurs when people don’t put in their best effort because they feel they won’t be held accountable for the outcome. This can lead to lower-quality output due to poor communication and low employee morale.

If people aren’t encouraged to give their best efforts, it’s often easier to go with the flow or coast along without doing much work. This can cause an overall lack of motivation among employees and can have a negative impact on productivity.

4. Increased Pressure for Those Who Slack Off

Social loafing has a negative effect on group work. It’s when a person slacks off in a group setting because they don’t need to put in their full effort since others will be doing the work for them.

It can be especially harmful when you have a group project with a time limit or other deadline. If one group member doesn’t do their share of the work, it puts more pressure on the other members to complete their portion in time.

This pressure could lead to increased stress and frustration for those doing their part, as well as increased stress for those who are slacking off and not doing their fair share of the work.

5. Causes Resentment Within the Group

Social loafing is a negative effect that can happen within groups and cause resentment. When people feel like they’re being taken advantage of in a group setting, they may feel resentment toward their peers. This can have a negative impact on the success of the team or project.

If one team member doesn’t pull their weight, it can be frustrating for the other members working hard to complete their tasks. If this happens frequently, it could lead to resentment among team members, affecting overall productivity.


1. Encourage Open Communication

Encourage open communication among your team members. When you want to get something done, ask for input from everyone involved on your team. Make sure that everyone at least has an opportunity to offer ideas and participate in the process, even if there’ll be others who will actually be doing the work.

If you want people to participate in meetings or conference calls, don’t allow them to sit quietly without saying anything. Instead, encourage them to speak up if they have something important to contribute. Making sure people feel like their voices are heard will help them feel more motivated about their jobs and create a positive environment for everyone in your office.

2. Recognize Team Members’ Contributions

The most important thing to do is to recognize team members’ contributions. This can be done both formally and informally.

Formally, you can recognize people in a team meeting or at a company-wide celebration. Informally, you can mention people’s contributions via email or casual conversations.

Allowing team members to recognize each other also helps stop social loafing because it encourages people to notice what others are doing right.

3. Provide Guidance on How to Be a Good Team Member

Social loafing is the tendency to exert less effort to accomplish a task when working in a group than you would individually. It occurs because people are not held accountable for their actions. This can have a negative impact on team performance and is considered one of the most common problems in groups.

It can be prevented by guiding how to be a good team member. Here are some suggestions:

  • Set goals as a group and discuss them with each other. This clarifies what needs to be done and ensures everyone understands their role in achieving those goals;
  • Set expectations for each team member so that they know how they should work together towards the same goal;
  • Establish clear rules about how people should behave within the group, such as how often they should check in with each other and how much input is expected from all team members during meetings.

The best way to stop social loafing is to ensure that people clearly know what a good team member looks like.

4. Promote a Teamwork Culture

To stop social loafing, you must promote a teamwork culture. Social loafing occurs when a team or group members do not pull their weight. They might be unwilling to take on additional tasks or responsibilities, or they may not try to help other group members succeed.

Promoting a teamwork culture is one of the most effective means of stopping social loafing.

Teamwork can be implemented in several ways:

  • Encouraging people to work together as part of their job description. For example, the salesperson should work with the accountant and other members of the team to ensure success;
  • Creating an environment where people feel comfortable working together and sharing ideas with each other. This will help them see how they can benefit from one another’s knowledge and skills;
  • Making sure that everyone has their fair share of work so that no one feels like they are doing more than their share or contributing less than others in their group.

The key is ensuring that everyone understands their role within the company and that they clearly understand how their position impacts the overall goals and objectives of the organization as a whole.

5. Create a Culture of Accountability

To stop social loafing, you should create a culture of accountability. Accountability is the belief that people will be held responsible for their actions. It’s the idea that what you do matters and is noticed by others.

Accountability is a powerful motivator because it taps into your sense of self-worth and pride. But how can you create an environment where your employees feel accountable? Here are four ways:

  1. Make sure your team understands their individual roles and responsibilities;
  2. Set clear goals for each team member, so they know what’s expected of them at any given time;
  3. Ask for regular status updates from each individual so that you know where they’re at with their work, what challenges they’re facing, and how much help they may need from others on the team or from other departments within your organization;
  4. Give regular feedback on performance — both positive and negative — so people know if they’re meeting expectations or falling short somewhere along the way and where exactly;
  5. Make sure your company’s values align with the individual’s core values;
  6. Hold regular one-on-one meetings with each team member to check in about progress and discuss any issues or concerns arising during their workday, both yours and theirs.

If you’re working in a team, this is especially important. If someone sees another person not working as hard as they should be, it can be a huge deterrent for them to work harder because they don’t want to look like they’re slacking off on the job.

Even if you’re working alone, it’s important to create a culture of accountability in order to ensure that you do your best work every single day.


In the end, it’s up to you.

You can choose to let social loafing happen or you can choose to fight against it. You can choose to let your team fail or you can choose to help them succeed.

Motivating yourself to do your best work can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you’re tired or distracted, take a break to recharge your batteries and come back with a fresh perspective.

Remember that if you want to help your company succeed, you need to put in the effort, which goes for every team member.