When left unchecked, boredom at work can lead to an unhealthy mental state. It is a state of mind that often results from a lack of stimulation. It can be accompanied by feelings of emptiness, listlessness, and apathy.
The workplace is one of the places where people spend most of their time. It’s only natural that people get bored with it after some time. Being constantly bored in the workplace has some serious consequences.
According to a survey by Everest College, 83% of people who are bored at work are less productive. Moreover, boredom can lead to various health problems, such as stress and depression. In extreme cases, it can even lead to suicide.
Employee Boredom in 2023
Employers are particularly concerned about employee fatigue following a big resignation or reorganisation. According to a recent McKinsey survey, there is a high rate of employee burnout and anxiety, and 74% of HR directors in the U.S. have promised to prioritise mental health. But what if burnout isn’t the primary workplace issue we need to be concerned about? What if boredom, which is burnout’s opposite mood, is the truly pernicious threat to wellbeing?
Studies have demonstrated that “boreout”—chronic boredom at work—can lead to depression, anxiety, tension, insomnia, and greater turnover. The emotional condition of boredom is characterised by feeling uninspired, distracted, and restless while lacking the desire to engage in anything.
In other words, when we are mentally idle, we become bored. Everyone has experienced boredom at work at some point, despite individual differences in how prone we are to it.
There are numerous things that contribute to boredom. Lack of excitement, or the feeling that our work is uninteresting and unengaging, might cause this. Another possibility is that there isn’t enough to do, although boredom can equally result from having too much free time. A mismatch between expectations and reality makes it worse. The New Yorker asserts that “modern capitalism multiplied entertainments and consumables while undermining spiritual sources of meaning that were once bestowed more or less automatically.”
Expectations that life would at least occasionally be humorous and that others, including oneself, would be interesting developed along with the disappointment when they didn’t. One may also claim that modern life has given rise to entire businesses where workers privately think their work is unnecessary.
Reasons Employees Experience Boredom at Work
Whether you have a group of 1099 or W2 employees, keeping them motivated at work is crucial. The first step is knowing the root cause. There are several reasons why employees might become bored in the workplace. Here are six of the most common:
Boredom is an emotion that depends on the individual. Some people feel bored when they are doing the same thing over and over again, especially if they are simple or repetitive tasks that require no skill or creativity. For others, this may not be the case at all and they may find themselves bored in stimulating and challenging environments.
Another type of work that can stimulate boredom is when an individual is working on tasks that are not related to their passions or interests. This can make them feel like they are wasting their time and not using their talents to the best of their ability.
2. Lack of control
When employees do not feel like they have a say in what they’re doing, they can quickly become bored. This gives them a feeling that they’re stuck in a rut and have no way out. In addition, they might experience a lack of control over their own work schedule, their workload, and their tasks. This can be a major source of frustration and boredom.
3. Lack of purpose
Not seeing how your employees’ work contributes to the big picture can make them feel unmotivated and unimportant. Lack of clarity about their role and how it contributes to the organisation’s goals can also lead to a sense of boredom, because employees may feel they are not using their time and talents in the most productive way possible. Besides, employees may feel like their work is not meaningful if it does not have an impact on customers or clients.
4. Meaningless tasks
If your employees are doing things that seem pointless or frivolous, whether filling out timesheets or typing out data, can be very demotivating. The same also goes for employees who don’t have enough work to do. According to the 2016 Udemy Workplace Boredom Study, about 30% of employees responded that the partial cause of their boredom was not having enough work to do.
Due to hybrid working, our work is more flexible than before. When energy levels naturally drop, taking on monotonous duties can provide a welcome mental vacation from more creative and strategic work. Additionally, you are not required to finish these tasks in one session. It can be helpful to schedule boring chores for a few hours in the morning, take a long walk or engage in another activity that gives you a much-needed dopamine boost, and then come back to finish the boring tasks later on in the day.
5. Social isolation
Social isolation in the workplace can be caused by different factors, including the use of technology, the physical layout of the office, and company culture.
If social isolation is left unchecked, it can cause boredom and a lack of motivation. Employees who are isolated from their coworkers may feel like they are not part of a team and that their work is not important. This can lead to a loss of interest in their job and a decrease in productivity.
In many workplaces, it’s frowned upon to admit that you’re bored or disinterested at work, yet this isn’t the case. Instead, speaking up alerts management to employee dissatisfaction or underutilization and offers them time to make adjustments. Managers can assist in identifying new company sectors that need support or other innovative experiences that can create a transformation. They can also encourage staff members to engage in extracurricular activities that are advantageous to both the employee and the firm, such mentoring, public speaking, or enrolling in a new course.
When employees are feeling overwhelmed and undervalued at work, they may become frustrated at the situation and start to feel bored. This boredom could lead to stress, which can have a negative impact on the individual’s health, productivity, and motivation.
7. Encourage job sharing
Taking on more varied responsibilities is one quick cure, and job sharing or job crafting are two ways to do this. Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton coined the term “job crafting” to describe the proactive redesign of a person’s employment to better suit their interests while maintaining the performance of the role’s essential functions. For instance, someone who wants to improve their programming abilities might spend more time using online programs. When two persons share the same position inside a company and work sporadically, this is referred to as job sharing. Theoretically, someone trying to avoid boredom at work may take on two distinct part-time jobs to offer more variety.
How To Fight Employee Boredom at Work
There are ways to prevent and overcome boredom in the workplace. The first step is to understand what causes boredom. Once you know that, you can take steps to address the problem.
- Give your employees new tasks now and then to break up the monotony of routine tasks.
- Create an inclusive working environment.
- Provide more challenging tasks to keep your employees engaged.
- Let employees take charge of projects that will help their career growth.
- Add variety to the workplace by creating a more stimulating work environment and adding new tasks, challenges, and stimuli.
- Encourage social interaction by creating opportunities for employees to socialise with one another. For example, you could have a company picnic, holiday party, or team-building event.
- Promote employee engagement through activities such as team-building exercises, goal setting, and recognition programs.
- Allow employees to personalise their workspaces.
Advantages of raising your mood at work
Finding effective strategies to lift your mood at work is crucial. The following advantages can be felt when you’re passionate and involved with your work:
- Feeling of pride in one’s work
- A rise in productivity
- career advancement
- improved connections with coworkers and supervisors
- a person’s growth
- professional acclaim
- Find or rediscover your interests
- eliminating bad habits brought on by boredom
- locating a job or career that is more satisfying
Employees who are bored are less productive and can become disengaged from their work. Employers need to take steps to prevent boredom and address it when it does occur. Keep them motivated. They are not just your employees you submit your W2 form for. Employees are the pillar of any business. A happy team benefits your company in many ways. By implementing some of the strategies listed above, employers can help keep their employees engaged and productive.