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You Know About Employee Burnout, But What is Employee Boreout?

With employees increasingly hard to find, companies have to get the very best out of their workforce; and make their workplace as attractive as possible to new talent. A big step in this direction is making sure that we take care of our employees’ long run wellbeing. This past month we have discussed many aspects of employee health such as physical and mental wellbeing, work-life balance, mental health issues, etc. However, in today’s article I would like to talk about a lesser known employee issue - that of employee boreout.

What is Boreout?

Most people are familiar with the term employee burnout, where employees become exhausted due to prolonged stress or excessive work hours. But the other – more insidious – problem to be on the lookout for is employee boreout. Employee boreout, is a growing workplace trend. According to co-authors of the book, Diagnose Boreout, Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin, boreout can lead to burnout and illness.

Early symptoms of boreout include demotivation, anxiety, and sadness. In the long term, burnout will develop, generating a strong feeling of self-deprecation, which can turn into depression, and even physical illness.

How Does Boreout Happen?

Burnout often occurs when employees, who are passionate and committed, work too hard without taking sufficient moments to relax and rest. On the contrary, a boreout occurs when employees lack a passion for their work. These employees feel structurally insufficiently challenged.

Certainly every job has some boring aspects to it, but for those suffering from boreout they no longer find any joy or challenge in their work. Many of these sufferers once had a healthy passion for their position, but somewhere along the line the work stagnated or they lost the meaning in what they do.

However, unlike burnout which generally comes on quickly and is relatively noticeable, those with boreout can suffer for quite a long time. Boreout employees don’t collapse from exhaustion. They are present, but not in spirit – and they can keep doing this for a long time. They not only have lower productivity and more sick days, but spread their negativity across the whole company.

So How Big Is This Problem?

According to a study published by Udemy, 43 percent of workers report feeling bored at work. The research found that more women than men report workplace boredom (48 percent vs. 39 percent) and Millennials are almost two times as likely to be bored. 51 percent of respondents who described issues with boredom stated they feel this way for more than half of their work week. According to a survey published by the Korn Ferry Institute, the leading reason respondents reported looking for a new job was that they were bored with the job they currently hold.

What Can Employees and Companies Do?

So what can employees and managers do to avoid boreout, or combat it once it occurs? Ultimately the position needs to change so that the employee can find meaning and purpose again in their work. This may only require some minor changes, or it could mean a lateral move to an entirely different position.

Here are some tips to turn a tedious job around:

  • Determine exactly what bores you
  • What kinds of new responsibilities seem appealing
  • Ask your manager for new challenges, career counseling or a brainstorm idea session
  • Increase networking inside and outside of your company – ask others to talk about their jobs and what they find interesting
  • Volunteer for outside projects within your company
  • Ask about job shadowing
  • Consider taking part in your company’s fellowship program (if you company offers this) – 3-6 month programs in other parts of the country or even abroad.
  • Work with a career coach to help build meaning into your work

Companies should work to structure positions right from the start that provide variety, learning and growth potential. Have all employees round robin through a variety of duties, so that they are constantly learning new skills and taking on new challenges. Management also needs to create a culture where employees are appreciated and recognized for their work. Employees need to know that the company finds their contributions valuable.

Particularly during the pandemic, many positions became very stagnant, and previously vibrant and engaged employees lost the spark they had for their work. The rewards for tackling boreout among your employees are many. You will get increased productivity, lower absenteeism and greater retention. By tackling the issues of boreout, you will create a culture of engagement, skill mastery, purpose and ultimately fun!

By Ann Condon, Marketing Manager

Ann Condon has been with Dion for 17 years, working in Dion’s Marketing and Business Development Department. Although this was her first position with a jewelry manufacturer, she has learned a lot over the years. Ann enjoys getting involved in “All Things Dion” from volunteering at the Dion Golf Tournament to being a part of the Dion Diamonds Relay for Life Team. She has quite a number of Dion event t-shirts to show for it!


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