Recent research has found that a majority of employees in the U.S. report being bored at work. And this appears to be a significantly more frequent issue for millennials, who report being bored at twice the rate of other workers.
What are some factors that can contribute to being bored?
Boredom: The Employee’s Part
Boredom experienced by an employee is at least partially their responsibility and there are things they can do to engage.
One factor that makes a person more susceptible to becoming bored is being physically tired. When we are tired, the mind has a harder time processing information, which impairs engagement.
Probably the more common and important employee factor is one’s attitude and approach to the task. Approaching a situation with the belief that “this is going to be BORING” will probably lead to that experience. However, if one approaches the task or event with a desire to learn and be actively engaged, the experience will likely be more positive.
Another factor is the lack of significant relationships at work. Gallup research has shown that those with a good friend at work are far more likely to be engaged.
Boredom: The Workplace’s Part
A lot has been written about toxic workplaces but, in actuality, boring workplaces (or jobs) are probably more prevalent than totally negative, unhealthy work environments. In fact, the opposite of a vibrant, healthy workplace is likely to be dull and unexciting – think of a gray, lifeless, low energy workplace.
Environmental and situational factors also contribute to the level of boredom experienced. Here are some common circumstances that create a boring experience:
- Dull information
- No sensory stimulation – visually, auditorily, kinesthetically (an extremely “plain” setting or environment)
- A sense that your presence doesn't matter
- The information or task has no or little relevance to your life
- You don't understand the information presented (or what is going on during an event)
- The amount of information given is overwhelming
- You are expected to stay focused for extremely long periods of time
- Information presented is purely factual and has no emotional component
- The information or task is repetitive, non-engaging and requires very little from you
- You have no idea of why you are doing what you're doing or how what you are doing is related to the “big picture”
Besides the physical components of the environment, boredom at work essentially is an extreme example of disengagement – being “present” physically but not really “being there” mentally or emotionally.
If You Are Bored, What Should You Do?
Typically, it is best to start with yourself.
- Are you unwilling to give work a real chance because you are fatigued? If so, develop a plan to correct this.
- Do you need to work on your attitude and expectations? Expecting life to be dull will make life dull. Ask yourself: what can I learn through this process (about myself, about others, about technology, about our industry, about our clients or vendors)?
- Should you make more of an effort to reach out to others and forge lasting friendships at work? Those who foster meaningful friendships at work are more likely to feel connected.
But also evaluate your workplace.
- Is my work truly uninteresting?
- Are there some changes I can make to the environment to make it more lively and engaging?
- Do I need to start thinking about pursuing some other alternatives?
Whatever answers you find, make sure you do yourself (and probably those around you) a favor. Don’t settle for a bland daily life where you are disengaged, going through life in a stupor. Make some choices that will help you truly experience life to the full.
More From Dr. Paul White
Dr. Paul White is an author, speaker and psychologist, who helps “make work relationships work.” He is the coauthor of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman and his book, The Vibrant Workplace, released in April 2017. For more information, go to www.appreciationatwork.com.