Boredom at Work

The Question of Boredom Isn’t Boring

Boredom at WorkA recent survey from OfficeTeam found some astounding statistics regarding boredom in the workplace:

  • Professionals said they were bored on average 10.5 hours each week (which works out to about 25% of their work week)
  • 40% of workers said they’d quit a job if they felt bored
  • 28% of senior managers think the reason for boredom is unchallenging work assignments

And what do bored employees do? Surf the web for personal matters (e.g., shopping, dating), pay personal bills, or watch programs online that have nothing to do with business or personal development. Small business owners … this survey should be a heads up to challenge your employees and do away with boredom.

Countering boredom

I can honestly say I’ve never been bored for a moment in my life. When I’ve had to sit through boring speakers, I tuned out and concentrated on developing ideas I could put to use later on. (Another option, suggested by one business person I knew, is to think about how you could have done a better job than the speaker.) When I have idle time (ha ha), I fill it with mundane tasks that need to get done such as filing away bills, answering emails, and reading through saved articles, or I think about ideas for my next blog or my next book.

So what can you do in your company? My first suggestion would be to create a workplace where no one gets bored. You could, for example, challenge your employees to identify problems and devise solutions for them, and create rewards or incentives for doing this. But if some workers still find that they have idle time despite work assignments and deadlines, here are some suggestions I’ve found in various articles about countering boredom that I think you wouldn't  mind workers doing on company time:

  • Learn something new. Listen to a TED talk; there are many videos on business topics.
  • Surf the web for business. A study several years ago that was reported in the Wall Street Journal found that web surfing can “refresh tired workers and enhance productivity.”
  • Take a pause. Sit still and do nothing for a brief time (or perhaps daydream or mediate). This time out can recharge a person’s mental abilities.
  • Walk around your facility. Changing the view can dislodge someone from a rut. Perhaps other employees need help with a particular task or want to discuss an issue.

Final thought

Companies are paying workers to work, and wasting significant hours on time-fillers doesn’t make business sense. Business owners and managers should engage their staff to detect whether boredom is a problem and get ideas from them on what can be done.

If you have encountered this problem in your workplace, please share what’s been done to address it so that I can share the ideas with others.

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