Does your boss check his personal email or read websites featuring non-work-related information (such as the news or online shopping) more often than you? It’s likely according to the findings of Garrett and Danziger (2008). By conducting a phone survey (n=1,024), these researchers found that employees of higher status (measured by job autonomy, income, education, and job status) use the internet for personal reasons while on the job more often than those of lower status.
Garrett and Danziger also found that men and women differed slightly in the type of cyberslacking (also known as cyberloafing) performed. Men were more likely to use the internet for leisure-related surfing than women, but no differences in gender were found for engaging in non-work personal communications. What I find to be most interesting about this article is that its findings are contrary to the modern perception that lower-status employees spend more time cyberslacking than higher-status employees. Perhaps this is partially due to the fact that higher-status employees nowadays report less leisure time than lower-status employees. Maybe at higher levels, work time becomes vital for crossing certain personal agenda items off of the list.
Garrett and Danziger (p. 288) cite that this trend has reversed from the 1960s, when lower-status workers coveted the substantial amount of leisure time that came with those jobs held by high-status workers. One could look at the primary finding of this study (i.e., employees in higher-status jobs are more frequent cyberslackers) and become excited by the possibility that the relationship could work in the other direction . . . but I wouldn’t go as far as assuming that a low-level employee who cyberslacks to a significant degree is destined to reach a high-level position someday – in fact, watch out, because that’s a sure-fire way to get the boot before you get that next promotion. So, if you’re at work reading this right now, I’d suggest that you get back to your job. J