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Tech & Work

Fighting boredom in the workplace

I once had a job that was so boring it was almost psychological torture. I stayed there for nine months in the hopes that somehow something would make a turn and things would get better. I couldn't even reach out for new opportunities because the company bureaucracy was so bad. If you'd given me a choice when my alarm went off every morning as to whether I would rather go to work or have sharp objects shoved under my fingernails, I'd have gone with the sharp objects.

So you can imagine my pleasure when I came across an article that talked about how some bosses in Europe are taking measures to fight boredom and its effect on employees. The article, Bosses Battle Bored Staff, appeared in Business Sense. Although the title brings about a mental picture of sword-brandishing bosses facing off against ennui-infested file clerks, it's actually about how some companies recognize the problems boredom can cause and are offering solutions for fighting it. The article says,

"Monotonous jobs with limited opportunities to shine are driving an increasing number of workers to distraction and costing employers dearly in lost productivity."

In the same article, workplace expert Dr Sandi Mann is quoted as saying much of the blame for a monotonous workplace goes to technology, meaning that modern jobs are too predictable and most duties can be done with the "push of a button."

Another expert blames endless meetings, mind-numbing repetition, paper work, and office bureaucracy.

Regardless of the causes, some of the anti-boredom solutions offered in the article are:

  • To offer staffers more responsibility (but not too much)
  • To foster a team player attitude
  • Instead of getting rid of the "dead wood," companies should retrain the people whose skills they feel have become "obsolete"

Can you think of other ways employers can help battle a monotonous workplace? (For the sake of efficiency, and because I know you people so well, let's just assume that alcohol and nudity have already been considered and rejected.)

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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