There is a new problem making its way through the workforce: employee boredom. According to a recent article entitled “Bored In The Office: Is It The New Productivity Killer?”, boredom can upend the efficiency of even the most driven professionals. This can lead to withdrawal, the abusing of team members, or even purposely failing tasks. As Richard Chaifetz, a neuropsychologist and the CEO of ComPsych, states, ““When people get bored they become disengaged. The costs can be extreme—lack of productivity, significant errors and catastrophic accidents.”
A recent Gallup poll found that 71% of American workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged from their jobs. This detachment could be caused by several reasons. The most common cause is workers not being able to find meaning in their job and feel as if they are not making progress towards anything important. Other reasons include too little variety of daily tasks, the feeling of not having much control over their jobs or input on decisions, and the lack of feedback or positive recognition in their work.
As a member of the Millennial Generation, boredom in the office is one of my great worries as I begin my professional career. Having grown up with a full schedule of activities, the idea of disengagement within my career seems unfulfilling. I want my work day to be challenging and meaningful. In my mind, the end of the work day should sneak up on me, not be a tedious waiting game. Otherwise, the prospect of going to work every day would be more of a chore than a rewarding career.
If I were in a position of disengagement, I would approach my supervisor about the possibility of taking on more challenging projects or daily tasks. It is important that this conversation portrays the eagerness to take on new challenges and not discontent with current tasks. This discussion will show initiative and your commitment to helping your department, division, or company grow. Even if you do not get more challenging projects or tasks right away, it will help position you for them down the line.
For employers, it is important to keep an open dialogue with employees. This allows supervisors to understand employees’ engagement in their current jobs and possible ways to offset boredom. It also allows for more frequent feedback and leadership. As more and more Millennials make their way into the workforce, the open dialogue between workers and management will become more and more important, as many place high importance on concepts like team work and structure.
For Jenna Gourdeau’s complete article and her take on possible solutions, visit Forbes.com or click here.
Blog post by Jeff Nilsen '10 LAS (UI), UIAA Alumni Career Center Summer Intern and graduate student at Illinois State University