Is Boredom The Biggest Threat To Your Business?

When you think of threats to the success of your business, it’s probably grandiose outside forces that spring to mind: economic depression, competition from other businesses, changes in the market.  However, simple employee boredom can be the most destructive force of all.

In former generations, workers didn’t necessarily expect to be stimulated or fulfilled in their place of employment.  The social imperative was production, and the average person was accustomed to a higher level of tedium.  Nowadays, the rising generation is entertained 24/7 – they can’t even use the toilet without playing Angry Birds.

Contemporaneous with this, workplaces are becoming more boring as automation and bureaucracy multiply.  As a result, recent studies indicate that high-performing employees and wage-slaves alike are affected by increasing workplace ennui.

Companies that can’t offer a satisfying and motivational environment to their employees will suffer a host of ills beyond high turnover.  A study by Montclair State University and the University of South Florida indicated that bored employees are more likely to abuse fellow employees, sabotage their company, underperform, steal, and engage in destructive horseplay.  Most commonly, bored employees will simply withdraw through increased absences, lateness, and extended breaks, resulting in a steep decline in productivity.

Bored employees feel resentful of their employer for the oppressively tedious environment the employer has created, and they strike back in passive-aggressive ways.  Study leader Paul Spector was quick to clarify that a high workload does not alleviate boredom: “You can be very busy and still be bored.”

So what can you do to banish boredom in your workplace?

1. Axe the meetings

Specter identified meetings as the number one thing that bores the pants off employees.  Only hold meetings when absolutely essential, keep them short and to the point, and try to ensure that all employees are actively engaged in the meeting.

2. Talk about the problem

There’s a strange stigma around talking about workplace boredom.  Employers don’t want to admit that the jobs they offer could be anything less than fabulous, and employees don’t feel comfortable admitting they’re bored.  Create an environment where employees can speak openly about the parts of their jobs that are unbearably tedious, then actively alter the monotonous circumstances.

3. Raise the stakes

Employees thrive when their work is fulfilling in some way.  Try to forge a personal connection, an emotional component to every job.  If your company manufactures notebooks, perhaps you could organize field trips where kids can come and see the origin of their books, or you could donate a percentage of your stock to underprivileged students.

4. Increase the fun factor

Some elements of work will always be boring, but tedium can be much better tolerated when periods of monotony are alternated with periods of fun and excitement.  Try implementing employee recognition programs, contests, and special holidays.  Throw little parties, build a games room where employees can play foosball during their breaks.  Try to inject daily and weekly excitement in your employees’ lives.

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