Goldbricking: All that glitters is not gold!

It is important to identify the employees who are genuinely working and those who are simply pretending to work.

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‘Beware! All that glitters is not gold’, said my mother when I insisted on her buying me a flashy, big, fat pop-up book at a bookstore. Instead, she chose for me a book that was devoid of pictures, saturated with text and contained no exciting pop-ups.

After that, ‘all that glitters is not gold’ was thrown at me multiple times in different contexts and I learned that things can actually look different (rather better)than what they really are! With time I realised that this phrase is not applicable to things alone, but people also.

Goldbricking is the practice of passing something worthless off as something valuable, akin to coating a mud brick with a layer of gold and presenting it as a gold brick. While this is nothing short of fraud, human beings tend to indulge in this kind of activity in varying degrees.

Prem Singh

“I see employees in meetings, who come up with great ideas but when it is time to execute, they show no substance and character. They overproject their skills but fall flat during implementation. Function heads should be vigilant and take note of the behaviour patterns. They should not let the goldbricking attitude misguide them”

There is no dearth of goldbrickers in the corporate world. Every organisation has employees who pretend to be working as they while away time. They never finish their assignments on time but pretend to be awardees.

Research has shown that most of the time when employees pretend to work on their computers, they are actually surfing the Net for personal reasons. This kind of goldbricking leads to counter-productiveness in employees. They waste time by socialising with their colleagues and taking prolonged breaks.

We spoke to Prem Singh, president – global HR, Wockhardt and asked him to elaborate on the existence of goldbricking in India Inc.

“It exists in different forms in an organisation. I see employees in meetings, who come up with great ideas but when it is time to execute, they show no substance and character. They overproject their skills but fall flat during implementation,” says Singh.

Goldbricking is rampant in offices and takes the form of employees spending office hours doing personal work, such as equity trading, social-media interaction, and so on. There is also a breed of employees who stay till late and pretend to work but in reality, they are not engaged in any office work, but simply wasting time.

Nisha Verma

“In the bigger companies, goldbricking becomes a road block in overall execution of important tasks. Employees unnecessarily dilly dally in the pretence of one or other reason to not finish the work. They make the matter bigger and more complex, coating it with irrelevant information and passing it on to other departments”

“Function heads should be vigilant and take note of the behaviour patterns. They should not let the goldbricking attitude misguide them. It is their primary responsibility to be fair towards all employees and not allow themselves to be misled by fake behaviours,” says Singh.

Function heads must shoulder the responsibility of sieving efficient workers out of the workforce and acknowledging/rewarding them to stop the mushrooming of a goldbricking culture.

Nisha Verma, CHRO, Welspun recognises this plague in the form of employees who delay the process of decision-making by coating and uncoating a matter- in-hand to avoid its execution and consequences from it.

“In the bigger companies, goldbricking becomes a road block in overall execution of important tasks. Employees unnecessarily dilly dally in the pretence of one or other reason to not finish the work. They make the matter bigger and more complex, coating it with irrelevant information and passing it on to other departments,” says Verma.

“In order to avoid a hard call (decision), goldbrickers pass on the work to other departments to avoid consequences. This problem is typical to large organisations. In smaller companies, the workforce is more agile. They take quick decisions and tasks are completed swiftly,” adds Verma.

Goldbricking is a menace. Putting control on Internet usage may not be a solution, but keeping the employees positively engaged and motivated will help to reduce its effects.

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