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Deborah Hartung

Personify Change

SPARKFluencer: Sparking Ideas Influencing Change

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#BoredatWork: The TikTok trend that should terrify every employer

In a world where work has become fodder for viral memes, the hashtag #boredatwork has amassed over half a billion views on TikTok alone, showcasing the extent of employee disengagement. Culture expert Deborah Hartung shares 10 ideas for HR to buck the boredom trend.
black pug puppy on brown wooden chair, Bored #Boredatwork

If you think workplace boredom is just a Gen Z problem, think again. The hashtag #boredatwork has racked up over half a billion views on TikTok, with a staggering 200,000 videos showcasing the extent of employee disengagement. A recent informal LinkedIn poll conducted by Korn Ferry reveals that Gen Z is perceived as the most susceptible to workplace boredom, followed closely by Millenials – underscoring the urgency for organisations to reimagine work.

But let’s be honest, boredom isn’t just a Gen Z thing. It’s a workplace epidemic that transcends generations and industries. And it’s not just a few disgruntled employees venting on social media – it’s a full-blown crisis with serious consequences for your bottom line.

Korn Ferry Linkedin poll #BoredAtWork

The high cost of boredom

Bored employees are disengaged employees. They’re less productive, less innovative, and more likely to jump ship at the first sign of a better opportunity. In fact, a 2022 Gallup study found that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy up to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. 

Of course, it’s not just about the money. Bored employees are also more likely to experience burnout, stress, and even physical health problems, which all compound and contribute to higher absenteeism, lower performance and increased strain on health and social support resources.

Workplace boredom isn’t just a trend – it’s a threat to your company’s success.

What’s the solution to #BoredAtWork?

We’ve all known for a very long time that we need to abandon our 20th century Industrial Revolution thinking, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to work. As we embrace new technology and approaches to wellness at work and employee engagement, there are 10 strategies that stand out as a great starting point in the battle against boredom:

  1. Connect to purpose: Help employees see the bigger picture by regularly communicating your organisation’s mission and values. Show them how their individual contributions make a real difference in the world.
  2. Pay for performance: Reward employees for their results, not just their time spent at a desk. Implement project-based bonuses or performance-based incentives that recognise and reward their achievements.
  3. Strengths-based job design: Let employees shine by aligning their roles with their unique talents and passions. Allow them to leverage their strengths in their daily tasks and projects, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.
  4. Gig work and special projects: Give employees the chance to explore new interests and skills through internal ‘gig work’ or short-term projects. This not only breaks up the monotony but also fosters continuous learning and development.
  5. Invest in talent management: Show your employees you care about their growth and development by investing in micro learning, as well as comprehensive talent management programmes. Offer regular training, development workshops, and career pathing initiatives to help them reach their full potential.
  6. Peer coaching and mentoring: Foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing through peer coaching and mentoring programmes. Encourage employees to learn from each other and build strong relationships at work..
  7. Reverse mentoring: Pair younger employees with senior leaders for reverse mentoring opportunities. This allows both parties to learn from each other, bridging generational gaps, and promoting fresh perspectives.
  8. Flexible and asynchronous work: Embrace flexible work arrangements, including remote work options and flexible hours. Allow employees to align their work schedules with their individual chronotypes – their natural sleep-wake cycles – to maximise productivity and wellbeing.
  9. Paid sabbaticals: Offer paid sabbaticals for long-term employees to pursue personal passions, travel, or simply recharge. This demonstrates a commitment to work-life balance and can reinvigorate employees upon their return.
  10. Gamification: Introduce elements of gamification into routine tasks to make work more engaging and fun. This could involve setting challenges, awarding points or badges for accomplishments, or creating leaderboards to foster friendly competition.

The bottom line

Workplace boredom isn’t just a trend – it’s a threat to your company’s success. But by taking proactive steps to engage your employees and create a workplace culture that values purpose, growth, and autonomy, you can transform boredom into a powerful force for good.

So, let’s ditch the #boredatwork hashtag and start building workplaces where employees are excited to come to work every day. Your employees (and your bottom line) will thank you.

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Deborah Hartung

SPARKFluencer: Sparking Ideas Influencing Change

Read more from Deborah Hartung

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