Employee boredom is an increasingly common phenomenon in the workplace setting. In a recent survey, it was revealed that nearly half of all employees are bored. If that initial statistic wasn’t shocking enough, the fact that bored employees are twice as likely to leave their position should have employers waking up to this silently-growing epidemic.

We want to keep employees engaged and improve performance, so what are the warning signs? What are the causes? And what can be done to prevent boredom completely taking over a workplace.

Warning Signs of Employee Boredom

Boredom amongst employees is not always easily spotted, which is why companies often don’t realize there’s an issue until anonymous feedback has been received. However, there are some tell-tale signs that you should be on the lookout for as a business leader or a member of the HR department.

Symptoms of employee boredom include:

  • Constantly looking for distractions such as surfing the internet or using social media whilst working
  • Not thinking proactively (how to satisfy a customer, solve a problem or improve a process or product)
  • Preference for lone working rather than meeting or working as a team
  • Excessive complaining and negativity
  • Gossiping instead of focusing on the mission, vision or goals
  • Late to work
  • Don’t feel that anything you do is really important (“what’s the point?” mentality)

But whilst you may be aware of the warning signs of a workplace grappling with employee boredom, what are the issues that cause it in the first place?

Causes of Employee Boredom

There are several possible explanations for employee boredom and it’s seldom the case that only one issue is having an effect on employee engagement. One of the biggest reasons is a lack of learning.

Employees – particularly from the millennial generation – want to continually develop and improve their skills. If they are trained up to perform a specific role within a company and then simply left to their own devices, then it’s unlikely that they’ll fully engaged with their position several months (or even years) later.

Another cause is not having enough work to do. This is closely-linked to the point made above. Once an employee becomes accomplished across their range of required tasks then they become much more efficient at performing them over time. Eventually, they can complete those tasks in close to half the time, leaving them with spare time to dawdle, procrastinate and become bored.

In complete contrast, many employees report that an overwhelming amount of work can have the same effect. When landed with what seems like an insurmountable workload, employees can quickly burn themselves out which feeds into the dangerous “what’s the point?” mentality stated above.

Effects of Employee Boredom

Employee boredom is one of the quickest routes to fostering a toxic workplace.

Gossiping can take a stranglehold, staff morale can quickly sink, and more importantly employees who are bored will tend to leave. Which means companies lose thousands in training and rehiring costs as a direct consequence of not keeping their staff engaged.

So if this problem is becoming increasingly prevalent and costly for companies to deal with, how can it be stopped in its tracks?

How to Beat Employee Boredom?

There are several ways to keep the workplace and interesting place to be. Whilst the list below isn’t exhaustive, it gives you a great starting point when thinking about how to prevent staff members from becoming bored:

  • Inject some creative flexibility: as mentioned, repetitive tasks can quickly lead to boredom once mastered. Pair employees up to get a new perspective on those tasks, or ask them to think of a new and improved way that they could be done. Could they even be automated? Doing so can free up the employee to spend more time on more engaging work. You could also switch up the routine. Put afternoon tasks in morning and morning tasks at the end of day to keep employees on their toes.   
  • Initiate more group work and collaborative projects: lone working is one of the quickest ways for an employee to become bored. By instigating mandated collaborative projects, employees improve their social skills, leadership skills, and presentational skills. This method kills two birds with one stone. Employees receive the development they crave, whereas you as the employer stave off boredom.
  • Create a culture of rewards and accountability: employee boredom is most likely to rear its ugly head if there’s a lack of accountability over the work they do. By creating a culture that rewards excellent performance and contribution, staff are more likely to be engaged. Secondly, if someone is underperforming you can use accountability meetings to delve into the reasons why and ascertain whether you can help them to rediscover previous performance and productivity levels.
  • Monitor workloads: as stated, some employees will need constantly challenging with new tasks and projects, whereas others will feel overwhelmed about the growing amount of work being dumped on their plates. Regular communication can help to negate the impacts of having too much or too little work, preventing employees from “switching off” on the job.

Get Help with Solving the Employee Boredom Problem

Employee boredom is a factor of all workplaces to a degree. Whilst it’s almost an impossible job to prevent any employees from becoming bored at any point during their career, there are active steps you can take to keep employees engaged.

Monitoring workloads, providing ongoing opportunities to learn, and switching up routine tasks can all have beneficial impacts on the workplace as a whole.

Here at DocHQ, we provide our clients with many strategies including Employee Platforms, to help prevent the types of employee boredom which can become very costly if not managed effectively.

With packages also including mental health support, on-site physiotherapy clinics, and sick-note administration, we are sure to provide a solution that perfectly tailored to your business’ needs. To get started, simply talk to us to discuss your requirements.

You may be interested in these workplace blogs about: Adapting to change, Changing employee expectations, Managing absence,

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