The new challenge for employers is to be sure their staff does not suffer from being “bored out.” Workers who aren’t engaged are more likely to leave a job than those who feel challenged and connected. It was reported that 20% of people who changed jobs said boredom was their main reason for doing so. A few years ago, Forbes reported that the cost of boredom costs companies between $450 and $550 billion annually due to lost business, employee replacement costs, and lost opportunity costs. Understand what bored-out is and what you can do about it.
What is “bored-out?”
“Bored-out” happens “when workers are unfocused, under-stimulated and doing work which is meaningless to them.” Layer on top of this continued stress that many workers feel because of economic struggles, concerns about potential layoffs, and being denied the ability to continue to work from home.
Bored-out is different from burnout. According to one source, burnout results from exhaustion and loss of meaning, while bored-out is due to lack of being challenged.
What can employers do?
Employers need to recognize the problem. The work ethic, which according to the Washington Post is the most important engine of capitalist civilization, seems to be being overwhelmed by boredom. Still, there are things employers can do to counteract boredom:
- Communicate with employees. Find out whether they are experiencing boredom and why they think this is so. You may detect boredom if you see employees glued to their mobile phones to view Facebook and other social media sites. Be sure your workplace encourages open and honest discussions and employees don’t fear repercussions about expressing their views. Also provide continual feedback to them on their job performance so they feel recognized.
- Work on career development. Offer learning opportunities for employees at every level. This may be done, for example, with mentoring within the company. Another option is to pay for courses for employees as a tax-free fringe benefit. Enable employees to work on new projects to get them more motivated.
- Get the right workers for the job. An overqualified employee is probably going to be bored fairly quickly. Don’t hire someone to solve a short-term need which likely will lead to an unfilled position in the near future when that overqualified worker leaves you.
- Try new things. For example, gamification can be used to introduce competition and rewards for tasks (e.g., points for completing an assignment; bonuses for points).
- Use collaboration. People are more likely to get bored when they are alone. Working together can prevent boredom. Build in social events and team-building activities where you can.
- Be supportive. This can mean offering flexible work arrangements and health and wellness options (e.g., quiet spaces for breaks). Encouraging mindfulness can also pay off, according to one study that found those who practiced it were less bored at work and less likely to quit.
“Boredom is the deadliest poison.” ~ William F. Buckley, Jr.
As someone who’s never been bored, it’s easy to overlook the fact that others can get bored. It’s a real thing and employees need to recognize and use actions to see that their employees stay engaged.