With the Internet permeating every aspect of daily life, organizations of all types are increasingly concerned about the degree to which their employees are cyberloafing by shirking their work responsibilities to surf the Internet, check e-mail, or send text messages. Although technological interventions against cyberloafing have been shown to be effective, they might be perceived by employees as an invasion to their privacy, and are expected to have repercussions on employee behavior and loyalty. The main objectives of this study are to (1) examine how the introduction of such technological interventions might affect employees’ emotions and fairness perceptions, and (2) understand the effect of the interventions on behavioral outcomes, i.e., employees’ intentions to cyberloaf and their loyalty to the company. We developed a justice-based framework that we empirically test using a field experiment composed of field surveys complemented with hypothetical scenarios describing new organizational initiatives to curb employees’ cyberloafing. Our findings suggest that technological interventions, although associated with perceptions of unfairness, are effective at controlling cyberloafing, albeit at the expense of employee loyalty. On the other hand, contrary to prior findings, we find that fairness perceptions of technological interventions, although reinforcing employee loyalty, are ineffective at curbing cyberloafing. These findings are especially enlightening in that they contradict a common belief that perceived fairness encourages employees, as a sign of their appreciation for this fairness, to curb their misuse of IT. The findings also help managers fine-tune their cyberloafing policies to achieve a long-lasting remedy to their employees’ cyberloafing while maintaining a necessary level of employee loyalty.
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Organizational justice research defines three types of justice perceptions: distributive justice, i.e., the perceived fairness of outcomes, e.g., pay; procedural justice as the fairness of the “procedures used to determine one’s outcomes” [18, p. 435], i.e., their “consistency, bias suppression, accuracy, correctability, representativeness, and ethicality” [18, p. 435]; and interactional justice as encompassing “various actions displaying social sensitivity, such as when supervisors treat employees with respect and dignity (e.g., listening to a subordinates’ concerns, providing adequate explanations for decisions, demonstrating empathy for the other person’s plight)” [18, p. 435]. It is also widely recognized in organizational justice research “that a considerable proportion of perceived injustices did not concern distributional or procedural issues in the narrow sense but instead referred to the manner in which people were treated interpersonally during interactions and encounters” [18, p. 435].
We reassessed a structural model after taking into account CMV and confirmed that the results of the hypotheses did not change.
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Appendix: Measures and scenarios*
Appendix: Measures and scenarios*
Attitudes toward cyberloafing (ATT)
Using the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes is a wise idea.
I like the idea of using the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes.
Using the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes is pleasant.
Subjective norm (SN)
People who influence my behavior think that it is fine for me to use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes occasionally.
People who are important to me think that it is fine for me to use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes once in a while.
Perceived behavioral control (PBC)
I can use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes whenever I want.
It is easy for me to use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes.
I have control over using the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes.
Past cyberloafing (PCL)
On average, how frequently have you used the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes over the past month? (1 = less than once a week; 2 = a few times a week; 3 = about one a day; 4 = a few times a day; 5 = once an hour; 6 = several times an hour).
I frequently use the Internet at work for non-work related purposes on a typical day.
Organizational commitment (OC)
I am proud to be working for this organization.
I find that my values and those of the organization are very similar.
I feel loyal to this organization.
I am willing to work harder than I have to in order to help this organization succeed.
Your management team announces that a new information system will be implemented to keep track of your use of the Internet in the organization (e.g., emails, social networking services, online news, software downloads, and financial transactions).
They indicate that the new system will generate a weekly report on the websites you visited, and the management team will review the report. [CNTX = 1]
They indicate that the new system will generate a weekly report on the websites you visited, but the report will be sent to you only. The report will NOT be sent to anyone else. [CNTX = 2].
Interactional justice (IJ)
In the scenario described previously, the management team treats me in a kindly manner.
In the scenario described previously, the management team shows concern for my rights as an employee.
In the scenario described previously, the management team behaves in a way that fosters trust on my part.
Negative emotions (NE)
When you read the previous announcement by the organization, to what extent did you experience the following feelings? (1 = not at all to 7 = to a great extent).
Perceived fairness (PF)
The management team is fair in this plan.
This new plan is reasonable.
I feel I am treated fairly by the management team.
Cyberloafing intention (CLI)
I predict that I would use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes.
I intend to use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes.
I plan to use the Internet at work for non-work-related purposes.
Loyalty intention (LOYI)
I will defend the organization when outsiders criticize it.
I will encourage friends and family to utilize the organization’s products and services.
I will stand up to protect the reputation of the organization.
Age: (Years old)
Gender: (1 = male; 2 = female)
Note: * Unless otherwise indicated, the anchors for all items were 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree.
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Khansa, L., Barkhi, R., Ray, S. et al. Cyberloafing in the workplace: mitigation tactics and their impact on individuals’ behavior. Inf Technol Manag 19, 197–215 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10799-017-0280-1