If I would like to say, in a technical way, that the problem of a place is its lazy people, then I could say that its workforce productivity is low. However, "workforce productivity" is composed by these elements:

  1. Physical-organic, location, and technological factors;

  2. Cultural belief-value and individual attitudinal, motivational and behavioural factors;

  3. International influences – e.g. levels of innovativeness and efficiency on the part of the owners and managers of inward investing foreign companies;

  4. Managerial-organizational and wider economic and political-legal environments;

  5. Levels of flexibility in internal labour markets and the organization of work activities – e.g. the presence or absence of traditional craft demarcation lines and barriers to occupational entry; and

  6. Individual rewards and payment systems, and the effectiveness of personnel managers and others in recruiting, training, communicating with, and performance-motivating employees on the basis of pay and other incentives.

In that sense, saying that the problem of a place is lazyness, some advocates would ask: How do you measure it? The answer would be: With workforce productivity. However, those advocates of lazy people could argue that workforce productivity is low because it is affected by any components from 1 to 6.

Is there any technical term to refer lazyness?

  • $\begingroup$ Is your 2. point not it? $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Problem is how do you measure it? $\endgroup$
    – Delmonte
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


The terms of art here for laziness like concepts are "shirking" and "effort", particularly "endogenous effort" or "variable effort". You should also look into "efficiency wages". "Free riding" sometimes appears in this literature but because it is used heavily in the public goods literature it will have more false positives.

This paper may also be of interest:

Using a sample of male and female workers from the 1992 Employment in Britain survey we estimate a model of employees’ self-reported effort levels. Effort is modelled as a function of wages, the perceived monitoring and supervision environment in the individual's workplace, labour-leisure preferences, local unemployment rates and unionisation. Using a two-step estimation strategy to account for the endogeneity of the wage, we find that effort levels are increasing in wages and in preferences for work over leisure. While the extent of monitoring seems not to affect workers’ effort levels the ease with which they can be dismissed is a motivating factor. Unionisation reduces self-reported effort levels which may reflect the outcome of an effort-bargain and, in contrast to the efficiency wage shirking story, local unemployment rates do not affect effort. Finally, in spite of being paid more than women, men report exerting less effort at work.

The Determinants of Work Effort: Evidence from the Employment in Britain Survey (Clark and Tomlinson (2001))


In this interesting paper, Caplan, 2001 talks about Conscientiousness, which is a measure of motivation and diligence.

Those low in Conscientiousness are typically seen as lazy, careless, unambitious, and spontaneous; those who score high, on the other hand, as hard-working, careful, ambitious, and cautious. (Hogan and Ones 1997)

Then, he links job performance to this personality trait.

In a wide-ranging meta-analysis, Barrick and Mount (1991) conclude that such a link exists. For every occupational category that they consider, Conscientiousness invariably predicts better job performance: It "appears to tap traits which are important to the accomplishment of work tasks in all jobs." (Barrick and Mount 1991, p.18) Conscientiousness correlated .17 with productivity data, .23 with subjective job performance ratings, and .17 with salary. (Barrick and Mount 1991, p.16) Costa's (1996) survey article confirms Barrick and Mount's results, noting further that Conscientiousness predicted better job performance for both genders, and remained significant controlling for age, sex, and years of education.

All references are in Caplan, 2001.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.