It’s not a new workplace term but it’s one that you may not be familiar with — boreout.
Not to be confused with burnout, boreout — first made known by two Swiss business consultants, Peter Werder and Philippe Rothin, in 2007 —is when you’ve simply become a body in the workplace rather than a contributor. It’s the person who shows up to work every day without a purpose, those forgotten by peers and management who simply float on and settle into the flow of office life.
Like burnout, boreout has been linked to various side effects such as chronic stress, self-esteem issues, and even illness. In cases where a worker is underworked, it can feel like there’s no purpose to a career which can lead to depression.
As we live in a society where what we do for a living has become our identity, this buzzword can be felt for workers in the remote working world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without face-to-face interaction, communication has become limited and while online chat programs such as Slack and Google Chat can keep us connected, it’s easy to feel like you are alone when you’re working by yourself at home. The once ease of remote working now likely seems like a slog as new routines have become old routines.
Things have become boring — and you’re not alone.
Even before COVID-19, a study by Udemy found that 43% of workers said they felt bored at work. More men were bored and Millennials were two times as likely to be bored compared to other workers. Bordeum at work not only harms you, but it can also harm your company. A Gallup poll found that workers who aren’t as engaged cost US businesses as much as $550 billion in lost productivity yearly.
Being bored at work is a problem but ultimately it’s one that’s in your own control, Kimberly Roush, a professional certified coach at All-Star Executive Coaching, told Ladders recently.
“Boreout to me is way more of a victim mindset. It’s kind of a frog in the pot scenario,” Roush said. “I often work with people in transition and ask how many were dissatisfied in their last job but didn’t do anything about it. You’re completely giving up your power. If you’re bored, do something — make a move.”
Roush, the author of “Who Are You…When You Are Big?,” explained some of the principles from her book that aims to help people transform their lives by focusing on their inner values and strengths rather than vanity. Roush has worked with workers ranging in high-level executives to those just starting out and she’s encountered cases where boreout was the cause. One of the exercises she promotes is writing down what matters to you so it can be physically seen rather than just repeating it in your head. Through writing out “BIG” statements, it forces people to focus on what they are at their core rather than what others perceive.
“If you start asking yourself what you can do and focusing on what’s right versus what’s wrong, you actually put your mind into a more resourceful place. Physiologically, you’re really putting yourself in a place of positive psychology,” Roush said.
“Even being bored is kind of a threat. The thought of changing from boredom can be a threat. What if I try to find a job and can’t get one. Telling yourself you can’t is a kind of threat. You have to get yourself in a resourceful state of mind. You have to hit the restart button and start focusing on what’s good and what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong.”
So what can you do to help fight boreout? It starts with yourself.
Roush said things like asking for training, seeking a mentor, learning something new, or even finding a new job are ways to combat boreout. Reminding your boss that you want to be there and asking for more work is also an option.
“If sitting in a job bores, you’re probably not doing anything to get yourself to where you want to go. If you don’t know where you want to go and you don’t have a vision, then it’s easy to not know what to do,” she said.