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Workplace loneliness, ego depletion and cyberloafing: can leader problem-focused interpersonal emotion management help?

Hongling Yang (School of Management, Guangdong Industry Polytechnic, Guangzhou, China)
Zhibin Lin (Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Xiao Chen (School of Business, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China)
Jian Peng (School of Management, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 25 October 2022

338

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore whether and how workplace loneliness leads to cyberloafing and the role of leader problem-focused interpersonal emotion management in buffering this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on ego depletion theory, the authors propose that employees' workplace loneliness leads to cyberloafing via ego depletion, while leader interpersonal emotion management (i.e. leadership behavior targeted at managing employees' negative emotions) can help to alleviate the situation. To test this study’s predictions, the authors collected multisource data at three time points from a sample of 219 employee–colleague dyads.

Findings

The results show that workplace loneliness is positively related to cyberloafing and that ego depletion mediates this relationship. Leader problem-focused interpersonal emotion management weakens the relationship between workplace loneliness and ego depletion and the indirect relationship between workplace loneliness and cyberloafing via ego depletion such that the above relationships are weak (versus strong) when leader problem-focused interpersonal emotion management is high (versus low).

Originality/value

The study results suggest that workplace loneliness is an important hidden danger that leads to cyberloafing because lonely employees suffer more from ego depletion. Leaders' interpersonal emotion management strategy serves as a potential buffer for such a negative effect.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 72002049) and Guangdong Planning Project of Philosophy and Social Science (Grant No. GD20CGL58). The authors also want to thank Ying-Xin Zhong (Guangzhou University) for her contribution to construction of the original conceptual model of the present study.

Citation

Yang, H., Lin, Z., Chen, X. and Peng, J. (2022), "Workplace loneliness, ego depletion and cyberloafing: can leader problem-focused interpersonal emotion management help?", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/INTR-01-2021-0007

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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