boreout

Boreout syndrome: Discover the 10 causes and consequences

Boreout syndrome is a case of profound and continuous work demotivation experienced in the form of boredom. It should be understood, in a very summarized way, as a pattern of chronic boredom at work. 

Do you feel bored at the office? Is your work so tedious that you are unable to find the slightest bit of motivation to get through it? Maybe it is a case of simple boredom or maybe it is something deeper and related to the boreout syndrome. In this article, we are going to explain what this problem is, which can affect the work performance of those who suffer from it and their psychological well-being. 

Boreout and burnout, what’s the difference?

It is often talked about in connection with the better-known burnout syndrome so that each is often placed at one end of the spectrum of job dissatisfaction. On one side of that extreme, we are burned out by excessive or overworked jobs. On the other, we are bored and unfulfilled by a lack of tasks or feeling under-challenged by the work we are assigned. 

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In reality, it is not so clear that both scenarios are extremes of the same spectrum. An employee can burn out precisely by being bored out of their mind at work, regardless of the causes that have led to this. 

In any case, the so-called boreout syndrome is not an official clinical label, but an expression used in the field of occupational well-being. 

How do I know if I’m suffering from boreout?

There is no mathematical formula to determine when an employee is suffering from boreout syndrome. However, excluding other problems, there are certain manifestations of deep and continuous boredom at work we can look for. 

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This chronic boredom at work is experienced at all levels. At the cognitive (mental) level, attention decreases and the analysis of stimuli becomes superficial. At the emotional level, it manifests itself as demotivation and apathy. 

It is also reflected in the physical and postural aspect in the form of lack of energy, feeling of being “deflated” or with a floppy and sluggish posture. 

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Lastly, boreout syndrome is also present in our behavior: as we are demotivated and unattentive and nothing engages our interest, we get up every now and then, we start talking to the person next to us… instead of focusing on what we have to do.

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Working with boreout syndrome

To sum up, we can consider boreout syndrome as the opposite of feeling motivated, inspired, productive, connected with the objectives set, and correctly oriented to the tasks necessary to achieve them. 

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Although we call it “boredom”, this does not mean that the bored person is relaxed or rested: they may feel restless and uneasy because of the feeling that time does not pass, that it goes on forever, and that there is no way to fill it by being reasonably productive. This can produce great tension or irritability among the employee.

An added burden to this experience is that boreout syndrome is often experienced in silence and in a disguised way: admitting that you are bored at work can be interpreted as either that you are not doing your duty or that you have nothing to do. 

Both situations make you an expendable worker who could lose their job, so no one admits it out loud, just like that, that they have nothing to do or that they are bored out of their minds at work. 

What leads to boreout?

1. On-site working culture

It consists of strengthening the value of being there just for the sake of being there instead of smart working. Boreout syndrome can be a consequence of a company culture based on the eagerness to be at work, regardless of whether there is a task or not. It is what we call presenteeism, which forces employees to stay at work even when there is nothing to do and especially when no one admits that there is nothing to do. 

Boreout due to presenteeism is not being on call waiting quietly for the task to appear while one can entertain oneself with other things, but being uncomfortable and under stress for having to pretend to be working. 

This is bad for productivity since it means occupying a certain amount of time with supposedly useful tasks at all costs, regardless of whether the amount of time is right, too much, or not enough. 

A smarter alternative would be, whenever possible, to perform the task at hand in the strict amount of time required for it and leave the rest of the time free. Can you imagine if your company worked this way?

2. Weak workplace organization

We refer to an inadequate design of a specific position by managers, incorrectly assigning tasks and functions to a certain professional profile. Sometimes these errors have to do with the employee’s overqualification and other times they are due to assigning what is always motivating to some and what is always boring to others. 

3. Poor performance supervision

It can be linked to poor coordination of the work team by the team leader. To avoid the appearance of boreout syndrome in the workforce, it is important to ensure that there are trusting spaces to review the general functioning of the team and, in particular, of each employee. This allows a quick assessment of their performance level and motivation, as well as their possible suggestions for improvement. 

4. Poorly organized tasks

This is related to the issue we raised in section 2 when talking about the poor organization of the job. Sometimes the problem is that the job is lacking in content, with tasks that, regardless of whether or not they are appropriate for the professional profile, are scarce for the amount of time assigned to them. Sometimes the problem is not in the lack of tasks but, as we say, in the fact that most of the tasks are repetitive, uncreative, uninspiring, tedious.

5. Poor HR policies

These weaknesses stem from a poor human capital management policy and the lack of expert advice to managers from different departments on the risk factors for employees’ emotional well-being and, therefore, for their productivity. 

These are deficiencies at the corporate level end up leading to an excess of time in relation to the volume of tasks, which results in a lack of activity and in the employee’s task becoming not their job in itself, but pretending to work, which can become very frustrating.

Consequences of boreout

It is essential for companies to learn how to prevent employee mental health deficiencies such as boreout syndrome if they want to progress, stand out from their competition and make their production methodology sustainable in the long term. 

HR managers must prevent and address boreout syndrome for the following reasons: 

1. It breaks commitment to the company

If what I do motivates, entertains, and stimulates me, I will want to stay with the company and get involved in the quality of my work. If what I do is boring, I do not find it meaningful, it never changes and it does not contribute anything to me, I will tend to disengage from my responsibility and my sense of belonging to the company and its mission will decrease. 

2. The work environment worsens

If employees are motivated – besides being busy – the company’s work environment will be healthy. If workers are “deflated”, demotivated or deadly bored, the work environment will be negative and pessimistic. 

3. Encourages talent drain

If I find that the tasks assigned to me – and the reasons for this – do not correspond to or justify my professional profile, I will leave the company at the earliest opportunity, so that I can develop my skills in an environment that offers the conditions to do so. 

4. Decreases product quality

For the product or service that the company offers to be of the best possible quality, it has to be performed by people who put interest, attention, qualities, courage, etc. in the tasks they carry out. On the contrary, routine work leads to monotonous work, monotonous leads to boring, and boring leads to disinterest, low quality, and decreased performance.

5. Employee experience declines

All of the above can be summarized in the following: if an employee suffers from boreout syndrome, their experience as an employee suffers, and this, in addition to all of the above, damages the internal and external reputation of the company.

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How to prevent boreout syndrome

To prevent or address boreout syndrome it is necessary to conduct a critical analysis of the work methodology the team is using, the corporate culture on which it is based, the damaging habits that are sustaining it, and the degree to which this methodology is adapted to the organization’s needs at the present time. 

In general, it would be enough to know the causes we have mentioned and do the opposite, for example: 

1. To have the flexibility and innovative capacity when designing schedules, instead of establishing conventional schedules that do not respond to the company’s current needs and do not favor an optimal quality of life for the workforce. 

2. Effectively and self-critically distribute and review tasks, roles, and responsibilities among the different team members. 

3. Provide rotation measures in the performance of the most tedious or repetitive tasks, in order to spread the load and to be able to count on a diversity of participants in the different parts of the production process. 

Learn how to tackle boreout syndrome with ifeel

Reviewing the company culture to make innovative decisions on the best way to harmonize talent, objectives, psychological well-being and productivity is not easy. The most suitable professionals to advise companies on these issues are psychologists, for example through specific emotional well-being programs for companies such as the one that ifeel offers to its partner companies and which is significantly improving their productivity.

The objective of this program is to help companies put the care of the psychological well-being of their employees at the center of their corporate culture and their strategy to boost productivity in a sustainable way, avoiding significant risks to the work environment and talent retention such as boreout syndrome. 

Thanks to this partnership, HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice on the main risk factors for work-related stress in their teams. 

In addition, employees have access to a mental health care service structured at different levels according to their needs at any given time. This way, they can access different mental health care tools with ifeel’s app. They can also receive emotional support through a chat with one of the certified psychologists on our platform. If continuous help is needed over time, they can access the third level of the program: online psychological therapy with a psychologist specialized in cases such as theirs. 

We hope you found this post about boreout syndrome helpful. If you would like more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, all you have to do is get in touch and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

You may also be interested in this post about mental health at work.

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