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What Is Goldbricking and How Does It Affect Employee Productivity?

What is goldbricking? - Employee productivity tips from CurrentWare

Companies are heavily reliant on the quality and volume of work that their employees produce. From that reliance comes a needed level of trust and respect between the company and its workers; the company needs to trust that its workers are regularly producing quality work at acceptable rates, and the employees need to respect the quality standards of their company.

In the early years of capitalism and industrialism, the workers faced much more strict supervision as they worked in fields, factories and other labor-intensive industries. With large numbers of workers gathering in one building or area to work towards a common goal, supervisors had a great line of sight on where and how each of the employees were working. Strict supervision, long hours, few breaks, and intense work conditions made it very difficult for the workers to do anything aside from work.

However, as working conditions and industries have evolved along with technology, the opportunities for workers to ease off from working have become much more prevalent – and workers are making the most of these opportunities. When employees take advantage of their opportunities to abstain from working while on company time, this is referred to as goldbricking.


Want to stop Goldbricking and Cyberloafing in the workplace? With BrowseReporter you can track the computer activity of your employees, giving you detailed insights into how they spend their time on work computers.

What is Goldbricking?

The term goldbricking is used to describe the acts of someone who intentionally does less work than they are capable of, while convincing others that they are indeed working to their full ability and capacity. The imagery of the phrase depicts a brick that has been painted in gold in order to disguise itself and increase its worth.

A goldbricker is someone who does not work to their full potential, and instead seeks ways in which they can do as little work as possible without facing any consequences from management. These types of workers are detrimental to the production and overall well-being of a company.

With most people now working daily from a computer and completing tasks over the internet, the term cyberloafing is now another term being used to describe goldbrickers. Workers now use their computer and internet access to slack off while on company time, browsing social media and shopping online amongst other cyberloafing activities.

What Causes Goldbricking?

Boredom

A woman in professional attire stares off-screen, distracted

Many HR professionals and behavioral psychologists believe that the most common cause for goldbricking is a lack of excitement and enthusiasm from employees. When workers no longer look forward to and enjoy the work that they are doing, they tend to find ways to avoid their daily tasks.

Bored employees who tend to avoid their tasks cost American businesses $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity per year, according to Gallup.com. Bored workers are also 2 times more likely to quit, resulting in higher turnover rates and the high costs of the hiring process.

Higher Efficiency

Man typing on a laptop, surrounded by data reports and graphs

Similarly to the point above, those who have been working the same job for a long period of time can become quite skilled at goldbricking. Once workers have repeated the same tasks and have become quick at completing them, they can then find ways in which to fill the time between. As employees become quicker and more efficient at their job, they should be letting their manager know that they have the bandwidth to take on more responsibility. Those that do not do so can continue to complete tasks quickly and have more free time in between to goldbrick and cyberloaf.

Workplace Culture

Goldbricking can also become ingrained within the culture of a company’s workforce. When employees themselves begin to recognize patterns of goldbricking without seeing any actual consequences for those doing so, they will likely begin to partake in the act to some degree themselves.

A poor workplace culture is detrimental to the health of any company. John P. Kotter’s highly acclaimed book “Corporate Culture and Performance” included a long-term study that found the average revenue increase for a company with a poor performance-enhancing culture grew by 166% over an 11 year period. Compare this to the 682% revenue growth for companies with strong performance-enhancing cultures.

A strong performance culture cannot include workers who are goldbricking, and companies with a goldbricking culture will fall far behind their competition.

The Internet

An employee browsing the Internet on a laptop computer with different websites that are being tracked by the Internet monitoring software.

The practically limitless amounts of distractions that employees face while working on computers and having smart phones is unprecedented and is increasing the ways in which goldbricking is possible. When working from a computer, access to social media and other forms of entertainment can conjugate long periods of distraction and procrastination.

Results from a Salary.com survey found that 39% of employees waste up to 1 hour on the Internet during a work day, with 29% wasting 1-2 hours and 32% wasting more than 2 hours per day. Across an entire workforce and over a long period of time, those hours will add up and the time wasted will significantly affect a company’s overall production.

Why is Goldbricking an Issue?

At the end of the day, every company is dependent on their employees to work at an adequate level of effort, concentration, and purpose. When these levels drop, the production of the company drops, and the loss of potential revenue becomes damaging. In a capitalist society, production is key and all members of a team are responsible for maintaining their individual productive outputs in order to achieve a collective goal.

Goldbricking is a major issue because it costs your company time and money. An article from Forbes.com finds that the average disengaged employee can cost a company 34% of their annual salary. With the average worker in America making $47,000 per year, that results in $15,980 of lost value to the employer. How many employees work within your company? Can your company afford to lose out on 34% of their annual salary?

Goldbricking and cyberloafing can quickly become a cancerous problem throughout companies, too. The issue, if not acknowledged and persecuted, can quickly spread amongst employees as they themself begin to recognize patterns of slacking from their peers, managers, and leaders.

When this issue is not adequately addressed, even the most long-standing companies could be required to overhaul their workforce in order to change the company culture and restabilize necessary levels of productivity and quality.

Signs of Goldbricking in the Workforce

Low Productivity

BrowseReporter Employee Productivity Report Graph

Low levels of productivity would be the most glaring sign of goldbricking within a company. However, for companies with a large number of employees, isolating and identifying the employees who are most responsible for the loss in production can become very difficult.


Want to track employee productivity in your company? Download a free trial of CurrentWare’s employee productivity monitoring software BrowseReporter.

Hidden Screens

employee using their work computer

A classic indicator of employees cyberloafing at work would be when a manager breezes by an employee’s desk and sees them quickly switch the browser on their screen to hide the website they were browsing. We’ve all been in this situation before, on one side or the other, and it can be quite obvious that the culprit is attempting to cover up their procrastination. 

Delayed Communication

Yellow email letters flying out of a laptop computer.

For companies that have adopted work from home strategies, the dependence on virtual communication apps can create greater opportunities for goldbricking. Without a direct line of sight that managers would have in a typical office space, those working from home have more ways to cyberloaf. In this case, employees who often provide delayed responses to emails and chat groups can presumably be away from their computer and not actually working.

Browser History

BrowseReporter Sites Visited report sports and entertainment websites listed.

Since a vast majority of work is now being done online, companies often choose to install computer and internet tracking software to help identify cyberloafers. With this sort of software in place, managers and the IT team can easily report on the time employees spend using their computer. If the employee is spending more time watching videos or playing games than they are actually doing work for the company, it will be easy to confront them and pursue consequences. 

Phantom Projects

young employee in a business suit working on a laptop

Managers can also be culprits of goldbricking themselves as they can create the notion amongst their team that they are working on tasks above the level of those below them. Managers can create “phantom projects” that are used to convince their team that they are busy working on important tasks. With this being done, the lower level workers can be fooled into thinking that their manager does not have the time to support them, further reducing the team’s productive output.

Poor Quality of Work

Increase Employee Productivity and Efficiency

The poor quality of work delivered by employees across any level of a company can also be an indicator of goldbricking. Work that is delivered late or at a low level of quality can be a result of workers who did not put in the necessary amounts of time and effort that is expected of them. For teams that have a more prominent goldbricking and cyberloafing culture, their levels of work can fall behind the other teams within the company.

How to Prevent Goldbricking in the Workplace

As a company, one of your main focuses should be the quality and volume of work that your team is producing. If one worker or an entire team is not pulling their weight, your company will not be able to reach its full potential. Preventing goldbricking and cyberloafing in the workplace will be an ongoing challenge that will require a variety of strategies and resources. 

Set Standards and Expectations

Man signing an acceptable use policy

From the interview process on through the training and onboarding for new employees, the standards and expectations of work within your company needs to be clearly communicated and emphasized.

In many industries, setting a production or revenue quota for a worker will be effective in pushing them to work to their best abilities. In other fields of work, it should be expected of employees to show up to work on time, work well with others, and be a positive contributing member of the team.

If these standards and expectations are not met by employees at any level within the company, direct action should be taken by management to help correct the worker’s behavior. If action is not taken, then the company culture can become toxic as employees begin to abuse the leadership’s lenient policies.

Free Sample Template:
Employee Internet Usage Policy

Download this FREE acceptable use policy, customize it,
and distribute it to your employees to set a precedent for the acceptable use of the internet in the workplace.

Provide More Stimulating and Challenging Tasks

A man stares amazed at his laptop

The enthusiasm and energy that a new employee brings to a team can be uplifting for the other workers. Unfortunately, however, this level of enthusiastic energy can quickly wane as workers go on to complete the same tasks repeatedly over a long course of time. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as burnout, and it is often one of the first triggers of goldbricking.

As workers complete tasks, they become more efficient as they learn new ways to get the job done more quickly and with less effort. Once they reach this stage, management should recognize this stage in their development and begin to delegate more challenging work.

With new challenges given to them, complacent workers can once again become energized and excited to get the job done. The new levels of responsibility and their own self-perceived development can inspire them to continue working towards their advancement and promotion within the company, creating a more purposeful and competitive company culture.

Employee Monitoring Software

BrowseReporter is a versatile computer user activity monitoring software that helps organizations enforce policies, meet compliance requirements, and understand how their users operate – no matter where they’re located.

BrowseReporter’s detailed user activity reports provide insights like…

  • Are our users following organizational policies? Are there any unwanted activities that need to be addressed?
  • How engaged are our users? Do they spend the majority of their time on-task? And…
  • Are our users making use of the software we’ve invested in? Should we reduce the number of licenses we pay for?

The computer activity data is collected by a software agent that is installed on your computers. The agent connects to a database on your organization’s network, allowing you to maintain complete control over the data.

BrowseReporter’s central console allows you to run reports on your user’s computer activities from the convenience of a web browser. 

There are dozens of reports to choose from, including…

  • User productivity reports with an overview of how much time was spent on websites that are productive, unproductive, or neutral. These classifications can be customized to match what is productive for your users.
  • There are also detailed internet activity reports that show you what websites your users have visited, how long they spent browsing each site, and the amount of bandwidth consumed.
  • And finally, the application usage reports show you what software is being used, how long it was used for, and who was using it.

BrowseReporter’s reports can be generated on-demand, on a set schedule, or automatically sent to your inbox to alert you of specific events.

Using the End-User Reports feature you can even provide your users with on-demand access to their own data. This lets them benefit from the insights that you have.

BrowseReporter can even be deployed with optional privacy-enhancing features.

You can…

  • Display a custom message to notify users that they are being monitored
  • Make the client visible in the system tray
  • Stop monitoring outside of standard operating hours, and…
  • Disable certain types of tracking altogether 

These optional features allow you to customize your BrowseReporter deployment to fit the needs of your organization.

BrowseReporter is best used in tandem with our web filtering software BrowseControl. Using both solutions provides you with the visibility and control you need to ensure that your organization’s computers are being used appropriately

Ready to make data-informed decisions? Get actionable insights into the activity of your users with a free trial of BrowseReporter.

Get started today by visiting CurrentWare.com/Download

If you have any questions during your evaluation our technical support team is available to help you over a phone call, live chat, or email.

Thank you!

For companies that require their employees to be working primarily from a computer, installing CurrentWare’s employee internet management software will be the most effective method to prevent goldbricking and cyberloafing.

With BrowseReporter, managers can easily track the websites employees are visiting and the applications they use during work hours. Browsing and computer usage reports can be configured and scheduled for leadership to consistently monitor the behavior of their workers. With BrowseReporter installed, identifying cyberloafers has never been easier.

Web Filtering Software

BrowseControl is an easy-to-use web filter that helps organizations enforce policies, improve productivity, reduce bandwidth consumption, and meet compliance requirements – no matter where their users are located.

With BrowseControl you can ensure a safe and productive environment by blocking high-risk, distracting, or inappropriate websites, improve network performance by blocking bandwidth hogs, and prevent users from using unsanctioned applications and software-as-a-service providers

BrowseControl’s security policies are enforced by a software agent that is installed on your user’s computers. This allows the solution to continue blocking websites and applications even when computers are taken off-site.

BrowseControl’s central console allows you to configure your security policies from the convenience of a web browser. 

With BrowseControl you can Block or allow websites based on URL, category, domain, or IP address, assign custom policies for each group of computers or users, prevent users from launching specific applications, and block network ports to reduce the attack surface of your network

There are three key methods for blocking websites with BrowseControl:

The Blocked List allows you to block specific websites based on URL, domain, or IP address

Category Filtering allows you to block millions of websites across over 100 content categories including pornography, social media, and virus-infected sites.

and finally, you can use the Allowed List to allow specific websites that would otherwise be blocked based on their category, or for the greatest security and control you can block all websites except for those that are on the Allowed List.

When your users try to visit a blocked website they can either be presented with a custom warning message or directed to another site, such as a page with a reminder of your organization’s internet use policy.

With BrowseControl’s App Blocker you can prevent your users from launching specific applications.

Simply select the group you would like to restrict, enter the Original Filename of the application to the Application List, and add it to the blocked applications list.

When the user tries to launch the blocked application they can be presented with a custom warning message that alerts them of the restriction.

BrowseControl is best used in tandem with our computer monitoring software BrowseReporter. Using both solutions provides the visibility and control you need to ensure that your organization’s computers are being used appropriately.

Don’t let internet abuse run rampant in your organization. Take back control over web browsing with a free trial of BrowseControl.

Get started today by visiting CurrentWare.com/Download

If you have any technical questions during your evaluation our support team is available to help you over a phone call, live chat, or email.

Thank you!

BrowseControl is a website and application blocking software that can stop employees from accessing social media, online shopping, video games, and other types of websites or applications that distract them from their priorities at work.

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.