Written by Camille Lin, HR consultant and trainer specializing in the prevention of psychosocial risks for Groupe-conseil Perrier, and creator of the podcast Panser l'entreprise.
If I'm talking about burn-out, professional exhaustion, I think you know what I'm talking about! But if I'm now talking to you about bore-out, does that mean anything to you?
For some time now, burnout has been the default explanation for disengagement at work. But it's not just burn-out that can lead you to disengage from work. Bore-out is a little less well known, but just as destructive.
What is Boredom?
To answer this question, let's delve into the work of psychologist Robert Karasek, who conceptualized the principle of boredom. In his work, Robert Karasek tells us that the combination of undemanding tasks and low decision-making latitude, i.e. the fact that you have little or no freedom of decision in your work, leads to boredom. So boredom is... boredom at work.
And I'm not talking about the occasional boredom that sometimes makes you want to scroll through your phone or daydream during a work meeting. NO! Bore-out is chronic boredom, where you feel that your work has no meaning, that your skills are under-exploited and that you are of no use. In the workplace, the causes of boredom can be:
- Lack of work, which can make you feel useless.
- Overqualification. You may have been taken on for a job for which you are overqualified, which can be devaluing for the person and lead them to lose faith in their skills.
- Monotonous tasks, i.e. tasks that are repetitive, monotonous and of little interest. In the long run, you may no longer find any meaning in your work.
- And finally, being put on the back burner, which in my view, can be a disguised punishment where a person is isolated and given tasks that have no meaning or purpose.
I know that at this stage, you may be thinking, "But if he's bored at work, why doesn't he just quit? Frankly, getting paid to do nothing is a dream, isn't it?”
Well, no, it's not necessarily the dream. Bore-out can lead to a loss of self-esteem, depression, anxiety, etc. As for quitting your job if you're bored, it's not always possible, you may be financially trapped, and there may also be social pressure. In short, quitting your job isn't that easy, even in that kind of situation.
Oh yes, and there's something I haven't told you yet... Boredom doesn't just have consequences for employees, it also has consequences for the company. You risk having a high turnover rate, repeated absences, and of course, all this has an impact on productivity.
What Can You Do as a Manager?
First of all, you can pay attention to all the factors I mentioned earlier and check whether or not they are present in the company. You can also have regular discussions with the members of your team, asking them, for example:
- How do they rate their workload?
- Do the assignments match their ambitions?
- How would they like their career to develop?
- Are the objectives challenging? etc.
The other thing you can do is clarify objectives and roles to create a sense of cohesion and purpose. The more the members of your team are aware that their individual work contributes to an objective greater than themselves, the more sense they will find in it.
In other words, take the time to talk to your teams - it's essential, and I'd go so far as to say vital.
And lastly, remember that boredom doesn't necessarily lead to bore-out. On the other hand, as a manager, you can observe certain signals that should alert you.
Camille is a 17th Floor partner
HR consultant and trainer specialising in the prevention of psychosocial risks for Groupe-conseil Perrier, and creator of the podcast Panser l'entreprise.
With a dual master's degree in HR management and organisational change, Camille puts her skills to work for companies that want to put people at the heart of their strategy.
Her experience in the prevention and management of psychosocial risks in the workplace has been put to good use in a wide range of situations, including toxic work climates, series of unexplained departures, tensions within or between teams, and stress experienced by first-level managers.
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