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Dissatisfied at Work? It could be boreout

Published by: LifeWorks,

You have probably heard of burnout; but what about boreout? Boreout, the opposite of burnout, is a feeling of monotony at work or feeling underwhelmed in your role. Boreout lowers work efficiency and team spirit. It can adversely affect all aspects of your life, including your mental and physical health, performance at work, and your relationships.

Philippe Rothlin and Peter Werder identified boreout in 2007. They explained that, among other things, boreout is an “imbalance between time spent at work and the volume of tasks (or meaningful tasks) to be performed.” Feeling unstimulated, unenergized, or unrecognized at work can cause a knock-on effect and leave you feeling:

  • Dissatisfied
  • Fatigued, apathetic, ennui (listless)
  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Low self-esteem

What causes boreout?

Good stress, or “eustress,” happens when we are engaged and excited about a project or activity; our stress levels are in the healthy range—not tipping over to extreme stress, or burnout, and likewise, not low enough to feel lethargic and bored. It is important to find that balance in the workplace so you can feel energized and excited about your work-life and achieve your goals and tasks for the day.

Here are some signs you may be struggling with boreout:

  • You feel dread thinking about work
  • Your energy depletes throughout the day
  • You “clock watch”
  • Lunch breaks are the best part of your day
  • Your work does not feel stimulating
  • You do not feel challenged intellectually
  • You feel a lack of purpose at work
  • You feel like you are not growing or progressing in your role
  • Your lack of energy is seeping into other areas of your life
  • You begin to feel low

What can you do about it?

When you are feeling down or low in energy in your job, it may be difficult or nearly impossible to muster the strength to make changes or challenge your role. It is important to speak with your manager and team, and work to find a solution. Here are some tips:

Speak with your manager. Communication is key; if your manager is not aware of how you are feeling, they will not be able to support you. Arrange a meeting with them and go in with ideas for what you feel would help you. Can you ask for more responsibility? Get in on a new project? Or take on a task that requires more brain power?

Connect to your team. You may not be the only one feeling the way you do. If you feel comfortable doing so, check in with your team and, at your discretion, share your thoughts and ideas. Chances are, they may be able to give you some tips, words of advice, or ask for some of your input on a project they are working on.

Expand your skills. Take time to learn something new. Perhaps request some training or enrol in an online course in an area that has always fascinated you. This excitement will encourage you to start doing the things you really want to be doing with your time.

Socialize. The pandemic has made it difficult to connect and chat to our colleagues on a day-to-day basis, and it may mean that you have had to work from home. Isolation can make your boreout worse, so make sure you are setting time aside to connect with like-minded colleagues.

Monitor how you feel. Write down what areas you are struggling with and when these feelings occur. There may be a pattern to the feelings that come up and you might get some insight into what area of your life needs a change.

What’s next?

If you have put the above into action for a few weeks and are finding that nothing is changing, it may be time to evaluate your current job role and be honest with yourself to see if it is really what you want to be doing. Change can be hard, but you may find more peace and happiness looking at skills you can develop, furthering your education, and getting into the career that really makes you thrive. Speak to your assistance program for further support and advice.

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