Signs, Causes, and Solutions for Boredom at Work

The idea of burnout is something most are familiar with, but a buzzword called “boreout” has been making its rounds on the internet. Boreout syndrome is the result of under stimulation and underwork–and while that might sound ridiculous, it’s a very real and serious issue.

Boreout can lead to decreased productivity, engagement, mental health, and physical health, as well as increased turnover, and employee resentment. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about boreout: why it’s important, the telltale signs, and 6 ways to mitigate boredom at work so your employees are engaged, satisfied, and motivated.

What is Boreout Syndrome?

To start, let’s look at the meaning of boreout. Boreout syndrome comes from the word boredom. It’s what happens when employees are consistently bored and under-engaged with their day-to-day work. For example, take an office worker who is very talented but is in a position where they don’t do much work. Most of their day is spent messing around on a computer, looking busy. That may sound fun to some, but that level of boredom quickly takes a toll.

According to a Finnish study, high levels of boredom are associated with increased turnover, early retirement, poor self-rated health, and higher stress levels. Unsurprisingly, all of those have negative effects on a business. Boredom ultimately results in less efficient and engaged employees who are more likely to leave the business, resulting in poor financial performance. In practice, it can look very similar to quiet quitting. Employees are doing little work, and it results in numerous negative effects that harm businesses and employees.

Boreout vs. Burnout

Before moving on, it’s important to quickly distinguish between boreout and burnout. Though similar, these are two very different things. Burnout is the result of doing too much, while boredom is the result of doing too little. Even though the effects can be similar, the causes are very different. And as a result, the solutions to each are different as well.

Signs of Boredom at Work

Being able to identify boredom at the workplace is the first step in stopping it and reversing course. However, it can be difficult to identify if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So, we’re going to list and explain a few of the common signs.

Low Productivity & Procrastination

Low productivity and procrastination are a big sign of chronic boredom at work. People who are bored have a hard time motivating themselves to complete what can feel like pointless busy work. This results in procrastination and lower productivity. If your employees are waiting until the last minute to complete tasks or seem to have a very low output, there’s a good chance they’re bored at work.

Lack of Participation in Meetings

Lack of participation in meetings is another common sign. Bored employees don’t feel engaged with their work, so they don’t feel engaged with meetings or motivated enough to speak up and share their input. While not every shy person in meetings has a boredom issue, it can be a sign that employees are understimulated.

Absenteeism & Long Breaks

If employees are regularly missing lots of work and taking long breaks, they may be experiencing a lot of boredom. Obviously, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing; an employee may have health or personal issues resulting in absenteeism, so it’s important to communicate with employees directly. However, it can also be a sign of boreout at work. Bored employees are disengaged and don’t see the point in working, which can result in taking lots of time off.

Negative Attitude & Isolation

Lastly, a negative attitude and isolation can also be a sign of boredom at work. Employees get bored, are unmotivated, and often end up feeling very negatively toward the workplace. In turn, that can lead to isolation. As with some of the other signs, this could also be a sign of other issues such as burnout or personal problems. Regardless, a negative attitude and isolation are signs something is wrong, and there’s a good chance it’s related to boredom.

Causes and Cures for Boreout at Work

Now that you can identify the signs of boreout at work, the next step is to figure out what’s causing it and how to deal with boredom at work. This can feel daunting, so here are some causes of boredom and ways to cure it.

Cause: Repetitive Tasks

This one shouldn’t be surprising, but repetitive tasks can quickly lead to boredom. If someone is doing the same thing all day every day, it can get incredibly monotonous and boring. Over a long period, this can start to cause issues.

Cure: Gamify Workplace Tasks

One way to deal with this is through gamification in the workplace. Adding an element of fun and gamification to repetitive tasks can help keep them fresh and exciting while motivating employees to complete them.

gamification at work

Cause: Ineffective Management

Like many issues in the workplace, ineffective management can lead to boredom. Managers who fail to engage employees in a meaningful way can create situations that result in boredom. It’s management’s job to ensure employees are engaged and motivated in the workplace.

Cure: Conduct Leadership Training

Thankfully, managers are also in a position to solve the problem. Karrie Brazaski pointed this out on a podcast episode about employee burnout, saying,

“Leadership sets the culture and culture can really impact the way in which people operate within an organization.”

Leadership training, such as Team Leadership DNA, can be an effective way to improve management and decrease boredom at work.

Cause: Insufficient Workload

Out of all the causes for boredom, an insufficient workload is probably the most obvious. If employees don’t have enough work to keep them engaged throughout the day, boredom is inevitable. As they complete their tasks and are left with extra time and are under-engaged, they’re going to get bored.

Cure: Foster Cross-Skilling & Intrapreneurship

It might be tempting to address this by increasing workloads, but that’s not necessarily the best solution. Increasing workload too much too suddenly can result in burnout, which has its own issues. Cross-skilling and intrapreneurship can be a more effective way to deal with boredom from an insufficient workload. This can help keep employees motivated by helping them learn more and further their skill sets. This comes with benefits for the business as well, such as creating a culture of internal innovation that can result in higher creativity.

Cause: Lack of Career Growth

Similar to the last cause, lack of career growth can also lead to disengaged and unmotivated employees. They might feel stuck where they are with no room or path to grow, which can result in boredom and dissatisfaction at work. Employees want to feel like they are constantly growing and working towards something better. If not, they can end up bored and unengaged.

Cure: Prioritize Professional Development

One way to deal with this is by prioritizing professional development and growth, and there are multiple ways to go about it. For example, professional development programs can be a great way to prioritize employee development and help employees grow personally and professionally. This can help them see their growth, resulting in less boredom.

You could also focus on intradepartmental projects, which can result in employees learning new skills that encourage them to grow. Another option is to focus more on internal hiring, letting employees see that there is room for them to move up the ladder.

Cause: Lack of Collaboration

Last but not least is a lack of collaboration. Humans are social, and we want to work with others. It helps keep us engaged, motivated, and satisfied at work. When we don’t collaborate, it can lead to isolation, boredom, and more.

Cure: Encourage Teamwork

Team Synergy

On the bright side, this one is easily addressed by encouraging more teamwork. Having employees or teams work together can get them more social, motivated, and ultimately less bored. Team bonding programs such as Team Synergy, interdepartmental projects, and more can all be great ways to encourage teamwork and decrease boredom in the workplace.

Beat Workplace Boredom With TeamBonding

Boreout is an incredibly common but often overlooked problem in the workplace. It can result in higher turnover, decreased productivity, engagement, negative attitudes, and much more which all affect your bottom line. To avoid boredom at work, you need to keep your employees engaged with things like workplace gamification, effective leadership, professional development, and collaboration.

If you’re ready to take charge and eliminate boredom in the workplace, consider partnering with TeamBonding. We can help facilitate team building that engages employees while taking the pressure off you. So get in touch with us and browse our events to take the first steps towards dealing with workplace boredom.

Camille VanBuskirk

Team Contributor

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