Ethical Dilemma: Cyberloafing

Introduction: 

The topic that I have chosen is cyberloafing. It involves employees using the internet at their place of work, during working hours, to conduct activities that are not related to their work. For example, cyberloafing could occur when employees perform shopping or use social media platforms during work time. I have chosen this topic because of the prevalence of instances of cyberloafing among employees. It is not uncommon to find employees placing their orders during online shopping or chatting with a friend during work time. Most of the employees are unaware of the thin line between rejuvenating and wasting time during work time. I thus sought to explore this topic to show the difference between rejuvenating and wasting precious company time.

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Cyberloafing has been in existence for more than a decade where employees and students have misused their internet and computer usage policies. With cyberloafing, people tend to use computers for long purposes, thus wasting time on inappropriate activities. I choose this topic to illustrate the disadvantages of cyber loafing in the workplace and at school as it might have consequences where employees might end up getting fired or receive warning when they are caught participating in this activity. (Kleinman, 2019)

On the other hand, when students carry out cyber loafing, they tend to misuse their precious time in learning to other malicious activities such as gaming and listening to music where they can perform poorly in various units that they were requested to understand when making use of computers. All people should focus on it to prevent wasting time and be effective in multiple activities.

Background of the Real Case

When people use cyber activities for their essential purpose, they become easy as they can do various activities such as learning and communication. This can be essential as it will help them get more time for doing other activities with much ease and efficiency as communication will be sent electronically there will be no need to move from one place to another.

On the other hand, when people decide to engage in cyber loafing activities, they often find themselves using more time with fewer benefits, thus becoming inefficient in their activities using computers. Secondly, when people decide to associate themselves with cyber loafing, they are likely to engage with unethical information that will likely impact them negatively, which might make them depressed, thus ruining the rest of the day and giving them a hard time when they are studying.

People should care about cyberloafing because of its prevalence in today’s world. According to Kalejaiye and Hammed (2021), a survey conducted by Vault.com indicated that “88% of employees surf non-work-related websites during working hours and 66% surf between 10 minutes and one hour”. This is a major concern for businesses because of the amount of time wasted. There are some researchers that claim that small amounts of cyberloafing are good for the employees although other researchers claim that cyberloafing is a bad habit, just like procrastination at the workplace. People should thus care about the topic of cyberloafing because it could be beneficial in helping the employees take quick breaks that allow their brains to re-calibrate between tasks which could help to alleviate work stress. However, it is also argued that cyberloafing is a waste of productive company time and could pose security risks to the business.

The business challenge that is posed by cyberloafing is that cyberloafing allows the employees to flood the computing resources at work for their personal use. This could lead to clogging of the company’s bandwidth and potential degradation of the system performance. Other business challenges that are posed by cyberloafing include increased instances of security risks, reduced productivity among the employees, and increased risks of computer malware and viruses (Kalejaiye & Hammed, 2021). It is thus evident that cyberloafing causes numerous challenges to the business. The purpose of this paper will be to explain the benefits of cyberloafing in allowing the employee’ brains to re-calibrate between tasks which could help to alleviate work stress, while cyberloafing could pose challenges in clogging of the company’s bandwidth and causing potential degradation of the system performance, increasing security risks, reducing productivity among the employees, and increasing risks of computer malware and viruses.

Ethical Dilemmas

In day-to-day activities, people tend to use computers for various purposes, including communication, entertainment, and other activities. When a person uses the computer to file various documents, he remembers there was a new song he wanted to listen to. This is where he starts filling the document while listening to music. Since it is hard for a person to concentrate on two activities simultaneously, it becomes inefficient, thus wasting time. If the organization has strict working policies, the employee is likely to lose his job as there is inefficiency brought about by cyberloafing. (Mohammadi, 2019)

According to Lim & Chen (2012), the authors sought to analyze the effects of cyberloafing on the productivity and performance of employees. Additionally, the authors examined differences that occur between men and women regarding cyberloafing issues. This research will be essential to understand why some people consider cyberloafing as acceptable while others do not. The authors summarized those men consider cyberloafing as more ethical to men. According to Lim & Chen (2012), “the findings suggest that browsing activities positively impact employees’ emotion while emailing activities have a negative impact. Results of our study provide useful insights for researchers and managers in understanding employees’ attitudes towards cyberloafing, and how cyberloafing can result in a gain or drain in employees’ work productivity.”

Application of Ethical Theory

Ethical theory is a philosophical branch that uses various concepts such as integrity, morality, honesty, and value. On the other hand, cyberloafing does not involve ethical activities such as integrity, morality, and honesty. Cyberloafing does not adhere to most ethical theories, and it would be an essential strategy to ensure ethical theories have been used.

The article by Liberman et al. (2011) begins by describing cyberloafing as using the internet by workers during working hours for their benefit. This article will be essential in my study since it examines different attitudes towards cyberloafing and workers’ attitudes towards it. The authors identified that the intrinsic involvement and attitude towards the job were negatively related to cyberloafing. Liberman et al. (2011) found that “results showed that attitudes towards cyberloafing and participation in non-Internet loafing behaviors were positively related to cyberloafing. Implications for both organizations and employees are discussed.

Application of the Law

According to Askew et al. (2014), various organizations have installed the internet to assist the workers in becoming more productive; however, most have been using the internet to escape their job roles. This article is related to my topic since it tests the relationship between the theory of planned behavior and the model of cyberloafing. Askew et al. (2014) found out that “Results unanimously support the main TPB model, the model accounting for 32% and 37% of the variance in cyberloafing in Studies 1 and 2, respectively. The discussion addresses both the theoretical impact and practical implications of our work.”

Potential Solutions and Impacts

Cyber loafing can be prevented by setting effective policies on computer usage in the school workplace, considering a monitoring strategy, and ensuring that group breaks are taken to the computer users. If work breaks are taken, it will be possible to prevent computer addiction that people will have other activities of doing rather than doing malicious activities such as listening to music which they are likely to spend a long time when using the computer.

Cyber loafing can be prevented by the user recognizing the addiction towards the computer. If the user acknowledges his dependence, it is recommended that he stop using the addicted activities as it is likely to become hard if a person keeps using the addicted activities all the time he is using the computer. (Koay, 2018)

When a choice must be made between two unethical alternatives, an ethical dilemma (also called an ethical paradox or a moral dilemma) develops. Regardless of the number of ethical and moral difficulties we face on a daily basis, the vast majority of them may be resolved in a matter of minutes (LaRossa, et.al 2018). Moral quandaries are difficult to resolve since there is no obvious ethically acceptable answer to the problem. Individuals have faced comparable issues throughout history, and philosophers have sought and failed to discover solutions on several occasions.

Consequentialism Theory

It is immoral to engage in an activity that does not deliver the anticipated results; alternatively, it is considered ethically acceptable. According to the consequentialist method, the ramifications of a decision are evaluated considering a predetermined goal. Based on how many underlying goals it employs, a teleological theory may be classified as either monolithic or pluralistic in nature.

There is only one goal that can be judged against which all other purposes and actions may be evaluated when one adheres to a monotheistic worldview. According to pluralistic teleological theories, there are a variety of possible outcomes. In teleological theories, the nature of the goal that is pursued is more distinct (LaRossa, et.al 2018). Hedonism, for example, places a high importance on the sensation of pleasure or joy to achieving a goal. This set of action requirements may be traced all the way back to the beginning of time in antiquity.

Deontological theory

Duty-based or deontological ethics seeks to solve the difficulties associated with consequentialist ethical theories such as utilitarianism, as well as the difficulties associated with utilitarianism. According to deontology, everyone has some level of responsibility (LaRossa, et.al 2018). These commitments are non-negotiable, and they cannot be swapped or sold for any other consideration. Inherent rights, which cover a wide range of topics, provide support for these needs.

Although it is true that deontologists (at least the bulk of them) do not consider the consequences of an action when determining its morality, this does not entail. The term “immoral conduct” refers to any action or inaction that violates an ethical obligation. To be morally correct, it is necessary to behave oneself in accordance with one’s moral duties. It is possible to include the consequences of specific conduct into a legal obligation. However, a deontologist would never go so far as to guarantee a better result (Lo, 2009). For a certain action to be considered morally correct or inappropriate, several prerequisites must be completed. The moral need to follow through on a promise is more important than the consequences of failing to do so.

Aristotle’s virtue-based approach

These include not just concrete characteristics such as age, height, and weight, but also intangible characteristics such as abilities, goals, and reasons. From a moral standpoint, the latter group of characteristics is especially important. These characteristics influence how a person acts in ethically challenging circumstances and may be measured in moral terms (Lo, 2009). It is conceivable, for example, to describe someone as trustworthy, just, or honest. These are ethically acceptable characteristics that are known as moral virtues.

In my conclusion the greatest theory for addressing ethical challenges is consequentialism theory. One effective practice is to proclaim one’s opinion on different ethical issues clearly so that everyone in the company, especially those who are more vulnerable to unethical behavior, gets a clear message. Employees will be less likely to use unethical methods because of this.

Decision

When people use the internet, they should not use it in unethical activities such as cyber loafing. Cyber loafing makes people use computers for other activities that are not intended, thus making them inefficient in the activities they are doing with the computers. Since these activities do not meet the expectations of what is to be done using computers in the workplace, a person can be punished, making him lose his job. When students decide to carry out cyber loafing in school, they misuse much time they could use in learning, thus making them perform poorly in their studies. Furthermore, when students decide to use the computers in cyber loafing, they are likely to forget what they were learning, making them perform negatively in school, negatively impacting the students. Cyber loafing tends to appear to most users who use computers as computers have many activities to do in them, such as reading, listening to music, gaming, and other activities. When people tend to use the computers for a long duration, they tend to become bored, and this is where they decide to switch tasks, thus making they end up carrying out activities associated with cyber loafing, thus wasting their time at work. If people switch tasks, they tend to enjoy other activities associated with cyber loafing, thus spending long doing wrong activities instead of concentrating on their main reasons for using the computers. This makes people waste time and resources allocated for the organization, thus working unethically in the workplace. Computers can carry out various tasks simultaneously, which is commonly known as multitasking. Since computers can multitask, people think that using computers is not unethical as computers can accommodate doing it without any problem. People planning to leverage from this use of computers tend to do wrong activities as they end up doing tasks that are not required in the workplace, thus making the organization subject to losses. Ethical theory is a philosophical branch that uses various concepts such as integrity, morality, honesty, and value. On the other hand, cyber loafing does not involve ethical activities such as integrity, morality, and honesty. Cyber loafing does not adhere to most ethical theories, and it would be an essential strategy to ensure ethical theories have been used. Cyber loafing can be prevented by setting effective policies on computer usage in the school workplace, considering a monitoring strategy, and ensuring that group breaks are taken to the computer users. If work breaks are taken, it will be possible to prevent computer addiction that people will have other activities of doing rather than doing malicious activities such as listening to music which they are likely to spend a long time when using the computer. Cyber loafing can be prevented by the user recognizing the addiction towards the computer. If the user acknowledges his dependence, it is recommended that he stop using the addicted activities as it is likely to become complex if a person keeps using the addicted activities all the time he is using the computer.

If I were to decide about cyber loafing, I would try all possible ways and avoid all activities that I was addicted to that would have resulted in cyberloafing. This would be essential as I would be capable of concentrating on the activities that I would be doing in the workplace, thus becoming more influential on what I am doing thus becoming more fruitful in the organization. In the workplace, most of the activities require work ethics. Since cyberloafing breaches most of the policies associated with work ethics, it is likely to become a liability in the workplace and negatively affect me. Inconclusively, it would be essential if I was able to prevent activities that lead to cyberloafing for a better future in school and at the workplace.

Camps was already an employee of the company. Therefore, the company expected him to remain focused in productivity so that to perform better than the other competing companies. The following are some of the decisions that he would have made:

  1. To focus on what he has been allocated to do, ignoring the company’s illegal acts.
  2. To resign from the company without reporting the problem to the authorities.
  3. To blow the whistle anonymously and remain to work for the company.

The first solution would be the most preferred for most employees, especially those who are enjoying full benefits while working for the organization. It will keep the company operational while the individual retains his job. However, there is a high chance that the problem will be discovered, which is like VW’s situation in 2010 when researchers found out the impact of the cars on the market in the U.S. The production line while fail which would lead to the company’s closure. Everyone would lose their jobs.

The second option is to simply honor the company’s trust and resign but then keep the problem to oneself. The consequence would be continuous environmental pollution, affecting all people in society. The third solution would be to report the issue anonymously and hope that the company will not discover it. The impact is that the company would discover, and Camps would lose his job. However, the outcome would be the production of eco-friendly vehicles.

Key stakeholders

The environment is the main stakeholder, whereby through the production of poor-quality vehicles, the environment would be exposed to more harmful gases, resulting in other impacts such as global warming (Rao & Yan, 2020). The clients are also part of the stakeholders. The company sold many products since the clients trusted it. Producing substandard products means that the company is failing to live up to the clients’ expectations. The local community would also be affected since everyone within it pays the price once the environment starts to degrade.

Ethical theory

Utilitarianism states that the results received at the end justify the means used (Mulgan, 2019). This incorporates breaking the employer’s trust if the results will lead to a better society. Looking at the issue, remaining silent would mean that the employee would keep on earning and not care about any negative impacts of the problem (Hayry, 2021). Society would suffer from issues related to environmental pollution. Camp being a member of the society, he would also have to pay the prices of remaining silent.

As technology advances, there is a high likelihood that the covered issue will be discovered. This means that legal actions would be taken against the company, leading to its closure. This leaves Camp jobless despite of his loyalty. On the other hand, if he reports the issue, the company might not discover the whistleblower, meaning that he would retain his job. He would also have saved society him included from the impact of environmental pollution.

References

Kalejaiye, P. O., & Hammed, S. T. (2021). Managing employees’ workplace cyberloafing in a public university’s information and communication technology center. KIU Interdisciplinary Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences2(1), 354-373.

Askew, K., Buckner, J. E., Taing, M. U., Ilie, A., Bauer, J. A., & Coovert, M. D. (2014). Explaining cyberloafing: The role of the theory of planned behavior. Computers in Human Behavior36, 510-519. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0747563214002155

Liberman, B., Seidman, G., McKenna, K. Y., & Buffardi, L. E. (2011). Employee job attitudes and organizational characteristics as predictors of cyberloafing. Computers in Human Behavior27(6), 2192-2199. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S074756321100121X

Lim, V. K., & Chen, D. J. (2012). Cyberloafing at the workplace: gain or drain on work? Behavior & Information Technology31(4), 343-353. https://doi.org/10.1080/01449290903353054

Lo, B. (2009). Resolving ethical dilemmas: a guide for clinicians. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

LaRossa, R., & Bennett, L. A. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in qualitative family research. In The psychosocial interior of the family (pp. 139-156). Routledge.

Häyry, M. (2021). Just better utilitarianism. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics30(2), 343-367.

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003070962/utilitarianism-geoffrey-scarre

Mulgan, T. (2019). Utilitarianism. Cambridge University Press.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/elements/utilitarianism/E26CF2563F125BAF2AAE5049268505E0

Rao, C., & Yan, B. (2020). Study on the interactive influence between economic growth and environmental pollution. Environmental Science and Pollution Research27(31), 39442-39465.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11356-020-10017-6

Andel, S. A., Kessler, S. R., Pindek, S., Kleinman, G., & Spector, P. E. (2019). Is cyberloafing more complex than we initially thought? Cyberloafing as a coping response to workplace aggression exposure. Computers in Human Behavior101, 124-130.

Sheikh, A., Aghaz, A., & Mohammadi, M. (2019). Cyberloafing and personality traits: an investigation among knowledge-workers across the Iranian knowledge-intensive sectors. Behaviour & Information Technology38(12), 1213-1224.

Koay, K. Y., & Soh, P. C. H. (2018, August). Does cyberloafing really harm employees’ work performance? an overview. In International Conference on Management Science and Engineering Management (pp. 901-912). Springer, Cham.

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