Photography, Thought Catalogue, Unsplash.com
Have you ever felt stuck at work? Or bored out of your mind?
Our job is our source of income—it’s okay if it doesn’t fulfill every part of you. But what if there was a way to make your day a little bit better? Your boring job may be a case of bore-out.
Here's what you need to know about this little-known phenomenon.
Élysabeth worked in a hospital laboratory for two years, carrying out tests to diagnose illnesses. "At first, it was okay because I was learning new laboratory techniques," says Élysabeth, who studied science at university. "But it soon became routine. It was always the same tests, the same procedures. The days were endless. What's more, I felt that my skills were under-utilized. I was really unhappy.”
She eventually resigned. The reason? Boredom.
Without knowing it, Élysabeth was suffering from bore-out, or boredom-induced burn-out syndrome, a term coined in 2007 by Swiss management consultants Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin. This phenomenon is characterized by boredom and a lack of challenge at work, as well as a loss of interest in one's tasks.
How does it differ from burn-out? "In both cases, we're talking about professional exhaustion, but burn-out is caused by an overload of work and pressure, whereas bore-out is the result of profound boredom and a lack of satisfaction at work," says Manon Poirier, President of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources.
What causes bore-out?
Spending your time doing repetitive or monotonous tasks, being overqualified for your job or not having enough work to fill your days are all situations that can lead to burnout through boredom.
"Having a job that doesn't offer you challenges that match your skills is a risk factor," observes Marie-Noëlle de Sève, guidance counsellor at Brisson Legris.
It's impossible, however, to generalize, since job satisfaction also depends on individual differences and the working environment. For example, a job that involves a lot of repetitive tasks may be a nightmare for some, but a blessing for those who need a secure routine or who don't feel much like breaking their back.
"A sense of belonging to the employer, a certain amount of autonomy in tasks, and colleagues with whom you get on well can also compensate for the fact that a job is not very stimulating," says Manon Poirier.
There are also people who carry out tasks that are a little boring, but who don't have bore-out because they fulfil themselves within their family or through other activities. When you can find your need for fulfilment elsewhere, you are less likely to suffer from boredom. For instance, you can have a job that's below your skill level, but you play guitar in a band and are very happy regardless!
Ways to get out of it
Ideally, we should react before the boredom we feel turns into burnout. The first step is to listen to yourself, to sense that something is wrong, and to recognize the discomfort.
Marie-Noëlle de Sève advises: "We then need to ask ourselves what exactly is bothering us. Is it the nature of our tasks, an insufficient workload, the employer's sector of activity? This helps us think about possible solutions.” If you're considering a career change, it's a good idea to get a career adviser to take stock of your skills.
Photography, Cowomen, Unsplash.com
Discussing the situation with your manager is obviously essential if you want to continue working for the same company. We don't just complain, we put forward various options: a new division of tasks, internal mobility, training that would enable us to move to other functions, participation in committees or pilot projects, etc. If none of this is feasible, then we have a decision to make: to leave or to stay.
Fulfilling yourself outside of work
However, while changing jobs is sometimes the only way out for some people, others might have such good working conditions that they don't want to leave, whether that’s a great vacation policy or ideal work-life boundaries. Work then becomes a bit of a golden prison. If you decide to stay, Manon Poirier suggests finding a source of fulfilment outside work, such as volunteering. You should also watch out for signs of depression and seek help if necessary.
For her part, Élysabeth has never regretted her decision to leave. "I first gained experience in drug development with a pharmaceutical company. Then I set up my own business. The projects are varied, I'm constantly learning new things, and I meet doctors, pharmacists, and nurses. I love it, and I'm never bored!”