The art of skiving.  In four easy steps.

Average worker spends up to three hours per day skiving

A recent article in the Economist explores the art of skiving. The following key steps to skilful skiving could be straight from Buffalo Skiver’s handbook.

Always to appear hard at work

Give the impression that you’re putting in long hours by being seen by the boss at right time – or simply by leaving a jacket on the back of your chair so it looks like you’ve just popped out when in fact you’re still fast asleep at home. The skill of skiving is subtle: ensure you are somewhere else when the work is being allocated. Successful skivers never visibly shy away from work: confronted with the inevitable they make a point of looking extremely eager.

Roland Paulsen, of Sweden’s Lund University, explains in his book “Empty Labour” that innumerable studies suggest that the average worker devotes between one-and-a-half and three hours a day to loafing.

Use technology to your advantage

Thanks to computers, you can give every impression of being hard at work when in fact you are doing your shopping, booking a holiday etc. but the skilful skiver must be mindful of any internet use monitoring. There are other ways, too, to use technology to enhance the smokescreen of hard work: make sure to send a few emails late at night or early in the morning – or set them to go out automatically at strategic times!

Get a job in the public sector or a big corporate

Slackers not pulling their weight find it easiest to hide in the public sector or in big private sector businesses. In a small firm you have to work hard for a small salary but the bigger the company, the higher the rewards and easier it is to get away with achieving very little.

Work your way up to the promised land of skivers

Finally, as Schumpeter writes in his article, “you should not allow your preference for leisure to limit your ambition.” Studies suggest skiving is most prevalent at the very top and bottom of the pay scale. A Finnish study in 2010 found that the people who reported the most “empty labour” earned more than €80,000 ($112,000) a year while the runners-up earned less than €20,000. It can be hard to begin your climb up the greasy pole without making some effort: the trick is to be brimming over with clever ideas for other people to execute. But when you become a manager your problems are solved: you can simply delegate all your work to other people while you spend your days attending international conferences or “cultivating relationships with investors”.

Getting a handle on skiving

As an employer, you might be keen to keep an eye on the skiving habits of your staff. Very skilful skivers will of course never take a day off but “work from home” instead. However, many skivers do fall into the trap of duvet days and having a good absence reporting system in place will help you make sure those absence patterns aren’t missed. Check out Engage for absence management. And for more advice on skivers, read our article about managing Buffalo Skiver, one of the Usual Suspects of poor attendance.

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