Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Boreout – the new workplace trend and how to stop it

Employers were so busy dealing with burnout, quiet quitting and other worksplace trends, that it seems they missed one: boreout.

Most people are aware of burnout – the state of extreme stress, exhaustion and overload that can dramatically affect your work and personal life and wellbeing.

However, boreout, another sub-optimal state prevalent in workplaces across the globe and thankfully much easier to address, is less well known.

“Boreout is characterised by low motivation, low challenge and low interest that can result from having too little to do, too much routine, too little autonomy at work or simply becoming too comfortable with the daily work at hand. While it is not as serious as burnout, boreout also has a significant negative effect on quality of life and career prospects,” Advaita Naidoo, Africa MD at Jack Hammer, an African executive search firm, says.

When you suffer from boreout, it can lead to reduced productivity, performance and satisfaction at work and it will most likely affect your happiness, wellbeing and fulfilment in life, leading to feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration and despondency, she warns.

“Boreout happens when you are not using your skills, talents and passions optimally at work. Thankfully, recognising that your lack of engagement at work could be a result of you not living up to your full potential and is not necessarily a result of other, more challenging problems, is the first step to embarking on a new path towards success.”

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Boreout not inevitable or irreversible

Naidoo points out that boreout is not inevitable or irreversible and there are many ways to course-correct to ensure you have a more fulfilling career path. Managers and leaders can also play an active role to ensure their teams become more engaged.

Many employees go through performance reviews but these reviews are typically retrospective and focus on performance improvement rather than placing emphasis on how an employee might want to be engaged with in the new year.

“Boreout might sound like a frivolous problem, but it is far from it and employers should take note. It can lead to lost productivity costs, as bored employees tend to work slower, make more mistakes, or waste time on irrelevant activities.”

She says it can also lead to higher employee turnover, as disengaged employees tend to feel dissatisfied, unhappy, or unmotivated at work and may look for other jobs that offer more challenges, variety, or meaning.

“Additionally, boreout can affect the morale, culture and reputation of the organisation. At the beginning of a new year, it is a good idea for leaders to assist their teams in formulating a positive vision.”

ALSO READ: Time to stop quiet quitting and ensure you are visible and valuable?

Boredom at work not spoken about

People do not often speak about boredom at work, but Naidoo says it sets in for many employees over the course of their careers.

“For burnout, the remedy is to reduce work. For boreout, it is to actively look for ways to ignite your mental flame again and move towards something new. Even small changes can be energising. To overcome boreout, individuals must identify new challenges and leaders can assist with this.”

Naidoo says employees can do this by seeking new opportunities, learning new skills, or taking on more responsibility and asking for ongoing and strategic feedback.

“The first and biggest hurdle for employees who recognise they are in a state of boreout, is to get the ball rolling and build up momentum again. Recognising what is happening and getting out of your safe and comfortable, yet frustrating place by seeking out new opportunities and challenges, is highly likely to set you on a new path to success and fulfilment.”

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