What Is Goldbricking?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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Goldbricking is a term that is often used to describe the action of choosing to not engage in work or other productive activities when there is in fact work to be done. Sometimes referred to as slacking or goofing off, people who goldbrick are not generally looked upon with favor in the workplace, since they are choosing to participate in non-work activities rather than earning the salary or wages provided by an employer. While goldbricking is sometimes easy to identify, some practitioners are very proficient when it comes to appearing to be hard at work when in fact they are doing anything but work-related tasks.

The fanciful name for this type of activity comes from an old practice of coating cheap metals and other substances with a thin layer of gold. Doing so helps to hide the true nature of the object, giving it an appearance of being something that is worth far more than it actually is. With goldbricking, it is not unusual for people who are in fact goofing off to present the appearance of being hard at work when in fact they are doing nothing that is related to their job responsibilities. This means that while they may appear to be productive, they are actually the opposite.


The incidence of goldbricking in the workplace can be very costly to employers. When the staff is not completing tasks on time and in general using their time to be productive in the workplace, this increases the overall cost of operation for that business. Since goldbricking can occur in a business of any size, the potential to undermine the success of the company is present in just about every industry. In the long run, goldbricking hurts everyone from the employer who makes lower profits to the hard working employees who have access to fewer benefits thanks to the inactivity of their slacker coworkers.

It is important to note that there is a difference between taking an authorized break from work activities and goldbricking. Typically, an employee who has completed all assigned tasks, offered to help coworkers with tasks that are still pending, and waiting for more tasks to be provided may choose to seek amusement by reading personal email, visiting a social network web site, or engage in other harmless pastimes during this short interim. Should the employee continue to engage in those activities when more tasks have been provided and there is work to be done, then the activity then becomes goldbricking.


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