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Kate Palmer

Peninsula

HR Advice and Consultancy Director

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Boreout: What it is and how to prevent it

Peninsula’s Kate Palmer explains the new buzzword ‘boreout’, along with how to spot it, prevent it, and what to do to address it when it is found lurking in your team...
two primates on log looking bored: represent boreout

Burnout and boreout 

We’ve all heard of the buzzword ‘burnout’. Burnout describes when an employee’s workload is so severe that it takes a toll on their mental health, leading them to become fatigued, unmotivated, or even depressed. 

However, there is now a new term for employees who feel quite the opposite of burnout. 

Instead, they are so unfulfilled by their workload – whether due to the volume of work they face or not being stimulating enough – causing them to lose motivation due to boredom. 

So, whilst burnout has been getting all the attention, it’s also important for employers to pay attention to boreout, as this can be just as damaging for their business. 

What is boreout?

When employees feel as though their skills are not being used to their fullest potential, or their work doesn’t challenge them, it’s easy to become checked out and bored, which can have a knock-on effect on their mental health.

Boreout presents similarly to burnout with symptoms including fatigue, lack of motivation, frustration, and even depression.

How to avoid boreout

To avoid this, employers need to look at ways to keep employees engaged. Hold regular 1-2-1s with each employee to discuss how they feel about their workload, where they’d like to take their role, ways they can upskill and challenge themselves, and allow them to raise any issues or concerns they may be having.

Are you providing a workplace where people feel valued, challenged, motivated, and fulfilled or are you simply providing a paycheque? 

In these meetings, the employer should have fresh ideas on the ways they can support the employee’s growth and ensure that they have agreed progression plans and career development pathways in place with clear goals and targets set.

If an employee says that they feel unfulfilled in their role, there are a few options available.

Unfulfilment: How to approach

First, consider whether you find extra responsibilities or a different role within the company that would better suit their skills and career goals. 

Then consider whether they can be given more autonomy in the role, tasking them with using their initiative to take their role to the next level. 

Employees who are not challenged or fulfilled by their work are more likely to look for new opportunities elsewhere. This has a significant impact on employers who then need to spend valuable time and money recruiting. 

If you have high turnover within your company or poor retention rates, then it could be time to look at the culture within your company. 

Are you providing a workplace where people feel valued, challenged, motivated, and fulfilled or are you simply providing a paycheque? 

Culture is key

A business gets the best out of its people when the team is well immersed in the culture and goings-on within the organisation. This simply cannot be achieved when you have a high turnover rate.  

Not only will the business not be getting the best out of its employees, but the employees also won’t be getting the best out of the business. 

The longer an employee is with the company the more familiar they become which allows for them to build their role as time goes on. 

Many of us can resonate with this feeling of not being challenged

France: A tribunal of boredom

One employee in France who was suffering from boreout decided to take their employer to a tribunal bringing a claim for harassment resulting from their lax workload. 

Although French law is different from UK law, this case should serve as a warning about what may come. This was a landmark case, and the ruling could impact other countries across Europe and, potentially, the world if it were to open the door to more such claims. 

Be aware

It’s a lot easier for people to feel bored out than burned out, and when that happens people become complacent. 

Many of us can resonate with this feeling of not being challenged or ‘dialing it in’, watching the clock and just counting the minutes until you can go home.  

The fact there is now a term for this should sound alarm bells for employers, as it’s a trend many people can identify with.

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Kate Palmer

HR Advice and Consultancy Director

Read more from Kate Palmer