Just when employers felt they had identified the triggers of the burnout monster at the workplace, there pops a new malady— boreout. We are all aware that employee burnout is usually caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of stress, overwork, or excessive demands, particularly in the workplace. It can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. It is often associated with long working hours and constant pressure to perform. Burnout is characterised by symptoms such as chronic fatigue, a sense of detachment from work, reduced performance and a feeling of hopelessness.
Boreout, on the other hand, is a state of psychological and emotional distress that occurs when individuals are consistently underchallenged and disengaged with their work or daily activities. It can lead to feelings of frustration, disillusionment and a lack of motivation. Boreout typically occurs when someone’s job lacks stimulation, variety and meaning. In other words, boreout victims may find themselves with little to do, leading to a sense of stagnation and unhappiness.
Let us take the case of Saira, a dedicated marketing professional, she is experiencing burnout at her high-pressure job. Her workload has grown significantly over the past year, with tight deadlines and demanding clients becoming the norm. To meet these demands, Saira consistently works late and on weekends. As a result, she feels physically and emotionally drained, suffering from headaches and insomnia. Her personal life is deteriorating as she becomes increasingly irritable and unable to spend time with loved ones. She now dreads going to work and has lost her motivation.
“When employees feel that their job is evolving and expanding with widened responsibilities, they are more likely to be engaged. Redesigning jobs to align with employees’ preferences and strengths can contribute to greater job satisfaction and engagement”
Sumal Abraham Varghese, general manager- HR and operations, TVS Mobility
Now, let us compare Saira’s situation with that of Jatin, a qualified data analyst who is trapped in a monotonous role within a large corporation. His daily tasks involve basic data entry and generating simple reports, which naturally fail to engage his skills. He has discussed his concerns with his manager but sees no opportunities for growth or challenges. Consequently, Jatin spends his workdays aimlessly browsing the internet, feeling his talents going to waste. He lacks motivation not only at work but also in his personal life, leaving him apathetic and disengaged from his job and hobbies.
Saira’s challenges are tied to a high-pressure, demanding job, leading to burnout, whereas Jatin’s issues stem from job monotony and a lack of growth opportunities, resulting in boreout and disengagement. Recognising these distinctions is essential for addressing their specific needs and improving their professional well-being.
According to Sumal Abraham Varghese, general manager- HR and operations, TVS Mobility, “Essentially, the idea is to keep employees engaged by maintaining their job profiles and roles while increasing their engagement at work. This approach can help reduce workplace boredom.”
The second aspect he mentions involves job structure and design. “When employees feel that their job is evolving and expanding with widened responsibilities, they are more likely to be engaged. Redesigning jobs to align with employees’ preferences and strengths can contribute to greater job satisfaction and engagement.”
According to Varghese, enhancing employee engagement means making tasks more challenging without increasing stress. “The idea here is to provide stimulating and intellectually-engaging tasks that feel like solving puzzles or engaging in mentally stimulating activities,” he emphasises.
“This empowerment not only encourages individuals to think about how they can do their work better but also fosters a sense of ownership and enthusiasm for their roles. It’s about giving employees the freedom to improve and innovate, while ensuring that the desired outcomes are still achieved”
Amit Sharma, senior HR professional and former HR head of a large automobile company
Employee boreout can have detrimental effects on an organisation. It leads to decreased productivity as disengaged employees struggle to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.
Moreover, boreout can result in increased absenteeism and high turnover rates as disheartened employees seek more fulfilling opportunities elsewhere. The morale and team dynamics within the organisation can also suffer, with the lack of enthusiasm and motivation from bored employees negatively impacting the overall work environment. In addition, boreout stifles innovation and creativity, hindering the organisation’s ability to adapt and thrive.
Amit Sharma, senior HR professional and former HR head of a large automobile company, suggests, “To effectively deal with boreout, several strategies can be employed.” First and foremost, it is crucial to make work more meaningful by emphasising the higher purpose behind the tasks. Then, the organisations should focus on empowering their employees to make changes and introduce innovations to their tasks.
“This empowerment not only encourages individuals to think about how they can do their work better but also fosters a sense of ownership and enthusiasm for their roles. It’s about giving employees the freedom to improve and innovate, while ensuring that the desired outcomes are still achieved,” points out Sharma.
Lastly, Sharma emphasises how essential it is to promote job rotation within the organisation. Keeping employees in the same role for an extended period can lead to a decline in motivation and productivity. While it may be tempting to retain experts in specific roles, over the long term, this can be counterproductive and contribute to boreout. Rotation ensures that employees experience different facets of the organisation, keeping their work engaging and stimulating.
Employees experiencing boreout often exhibit decreased productivity, suffer from mental and emotional health problems such as anxiety and depression, and may even face physical health issues. Their motivation dwindles, and job satisfaction plummets, potentially resulting in high turnover rates and harming team dynamics.
“Organisations should pay close attention to job content and clearly define deliverables. Improving productivity is crucial, as working long hours doesn’t necessarily translate to better results”
Atul Mathur, executive vice president, Aditya Birla Capital
Organisations may also miss out on opportunities for innovation and growth, and their reputation can suffer as they struggle to attract and retain top talent. Economically, boreout can lead to inefficiencies and financial losses. To mitigate these problems, individuals and organisations should consider strategies such as job redesign, offering more challenging tasks, and fostering a supportive work environment to promote engagement and personal growth.
Atul Mathur, executive vice president, Aditya Birla Capital, comments, “Organisations should pay close attention to job content and clearly define deliverables. Improving productivity is crucial, as working long hours doesn’t necessarily translate to better results. Enhancing productivity can help mitigate boreout by ensuring that employees are engaged and effective in their roles.”
Mathur feels it’s essential to consider the concepts of time and roles. Typically, after spending around three years in the same role, it’s advisable to rotate employees and allow them to experience different roles or locations. This rotation not only brings freshness to their work but also contributes to their personal growth and development. Talent-management practices in many organisations often cover these aspects.