Even if you were fortunate enough to land your dream job, it’s unlikely that all the tasks you do daily are equally exciting.
The same is true for your employees. They might accept boring tasks as an unavoidable part of their job, but the question is how it will reflect on their performance.
Are your employees bored at their jobs? You might be surprised at just how checked out they have become, mainly because they don’t want to complain.
Some warning signs of employee boredom to watch for include:
- Poor posture. Slouching, tilting, general slumping.
- Easily distracted. Do you find them spacing out during meetings or missing manageable deadlines?
- Mistakes. Are they making preventable mistakes more than usual, or making mistakes on tasks they have done well before?
- Coming in late and/or leaving early, or clocking in at the exact start and end dates.
It might be time to initiate strategies to fight boredom and keep your employees engaged. While all jobs will require some tedious or repetitive tasks, there are tactics to spark new interest into a tired routine.
If you recognize some warning signs of boredom, it is time to open up a dialogue. Boredom is in fact one of the cited reasons why employees leave their jobs based on the Korn Ferry survey as well as the need for new challenges. Communicate to your employees that you are open and willing to listen to their grievances without prejudice.
Often the best answers to making work less boring come from the employees themselves.
Even if you can’t magically make their job exciting, being able to speak freely with leadership can ease some of the stress of boredom in the workplace. Having a manager that cares about your well being is a tremendous gift if you have to bear the dull tasks in your daily work life.
Teamwork is also important to have employee engagement. To make your team feel like a real team, building connections with distant employees is helpful even if it can feel daunting sometimes. There are also lots of helpful workplace collaborations tools and engagement techniques that you can try for your team.
Have you ever noticed how doing something for the first time is always more pleasurable or exciting?
There is some brain science behind this phenomenon. The human brain releases opioids whenever it experiences a new, pleasant sensation or event. You may recognize the term opioids because those chemicals exist in strong, feel-good prescription pain medications.
The first time you try a new meal, see a great movie, or travel to a new place is the most exciting.
The next time you perform that same action, the brain doesn’t release as much of those happy chemicals. Eventually, you become bored with the task or behavior.
One of the reasons you are bored at your job is because so many of the tasks and responsibilities are repetitive.
For most jobs, you will not be able to change the fact that it is performing the same task over and over again. What you can do, however, is incentivize the process with different rewards.
For example, you have a big project at work that will take six months to complete. Break the project up into monthly or weekly goals for your team. For each task, offer a reward or incentive for employees to finish on time.
Mix up the prizes to keep it fresh, and you will be helping your employees to experience that sweet release of opioids in the brain. Not only are you offering fresh experiences, but you are also minimizing the risk of overwhelming your employees with too much work at once.
Even as simple as recognizing your employees is essential to be more engaging. According to Slack, the effective ways to acknowledge your remote employees is through daily greetings and regular check-ins. But celebrating contributions and achievements along with specifying and giving purposeful feedback and recognition give the biggest impact.
Statistics from Hubspot says that 69 percent of employees will tend to work harder if their colleagues or boss will appreciate them more. This is possible by fostering teamwork as part of your effective employee recognition program. Sending and receiving recognitions and celebrating major accomplishments will be made easy when you have an employee recognition program.
You can use this tactic to motivate yourself to do tedious tasks as well. Do you have a 10,000-word report to deliver? Give yourself a break and a treat after every 1,000 words.
A change of scenery can do wonders for the psyche of your employees. Allowing employees to have the flexibility to work from home or another location can break up the monotony of having to go into the same office day after day.
In fact, based on the Staples Workplace Survey last 2019, 90 percent of employees state that having flexibility in their work arrangements contributes to their morale.
Just like with the rewards system, a new scenery sparks endorphins and opioids in the brain. A research by Gallup even finds that remote workers are more likely to engage. When employees were allowed to spend 60 to 80 percent of their time working outside of the company or even given the chance to have three to four days in a five-day workweek, that is when optimal engagement happens.
The benefits of remote workers have proven lucrative not only for the employees themselves but also for the company as a whole.
Research from the Harvard Business School has shown that companies that allow flexible schedules and locations, allowing workers to choose where and when they work, experience an increase in productivity, a reduction in employee turnover, and a shrink in organizational costs.
From practical terms, even though the work itself may be repetitive, offering a different time schedule or location activates a feeling of newness in the brain. You may find other hidden benefits, too, like a boost in creativity.
You can’t eliminate business tasks that are not enjoyable, but you can make them faster, shorter, and more streamlined.
To manage equipment maintenance, you used to have to fill out tons of tedious paperwork. With technology, the job has become a scan-and-go operation.
There is something inherent to the human condition that makes scanning things with a tech device intriguing. Do you remember being fascinated by grocery scanners as a child? That is your human brain getting a dopamine hit every time you hear a beep and see a flashing light.
Through studies on smartphone addiction, scientists have uncovered that seeing the lights and sounds through our handheld tech devices creates a similar brain response to slot machines and even cocaine.
Hearing the beep or seeing the light flash from the device is like social interaction, and our brains respond with a release of the feel-good chemical, dopamine.
It’s hard to deny the basic thrill humans get from using a tech device over pen and paper. Automating equipment management trains brains to be excited about the job rather than bored by the repetitiveness of the task. Why not turn asset management into a fun game?
You can apply the same principle to manual data entry, document management, accounting, and many more.
Technology exists to make lives easier, and there are countless tools that can simplify tedious business operations.
Take advantage of these solutions so your employees can perform tasks faster, make fewer errors, and have more time to participate in business aspects that will keep them engaged.
Boredom can creep into employees’ jobs when they no longer feel challenged in their positions.
When you start a new job, the learning process keeps you engaged. After a few months or years of performing the job, the novelty wears off, the employees become more competent, and the job ceases to be challenging.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to allocate tasks. Could you provide more responsibility or new challenges to bored employees? There are ways this could be tied into the rewards or incentive strategies as well.
If greater responsibility is not a possibility, could you distribute the responsibility differently? Switching which employee does what on the task list will allow them to break up the monotony and try new things.
As a bonus, you may find some hidden talents of individuals when they get the chance to shine in a new arena.
The key takeaway is to always brainstorm ways to make work novel.
An employee’s brain craves newness to stay fresh and motivated. The best leaders will anticipate this and will continually introduce new methods that will challenge their employees.
The happier your employees are to come into work (or log in from home) every day, the better the company will perform.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.