Have you heard of Boreout? No, this is not a typo. It’s not Burnout, it’s really Boreout.
It was the consultants Rothlin and Werder who, in their book “Diagnosis: Boreout“, in 2007, introduced this term, which is distinct from Burnoutbut also has a high impact on individuals, companies and the economy.
So what is Boreout? In a simplistic way we can define it as “chronic boredom”
So what is Boreout? In a simplistic way we can define it as “chronic boredom”. Yes, we all have days and moments of boredom in our professional environment. And sometimes this boredom can even be used to free us from favorable ramblings that lead us to creative processes.
Boreoutis totally different. It is a professional boredom so prolonged that it has become chronic. It can be related to demoralizing physical environments like working in a cubicle “farm” of IT geniuses (Dibert style), working facing a flat wall in an office, sitting in an unoccupied cab for hours, or standing for hours in some store with very little traffic. And it happens across all industries.
However, Boreoutis mainly associated with the meaninglessness that a certain profession makes to a certain individual, who concludes that his work no longer has any purpose and that whatever he does is not worth doing.
Boreout also happens to individuals who entered professions, which in many cases were their dream professions, where they developed and fulfilled personally and financially. Even these people may get to a point where they feel that everything stagnated and that it no longer makes sense. The person drags on and on and feels that nothing makes sense anymore and that their contribution is irrelevant. That you no longer identify with your work because it is no longer exciting and challenging.
Boreout professionals may be physically in the companies but with their heads and spirits far away
Dealing with Boreout, for the individual, can be very complicated because by the time you recognize it you will already be chronically affected. This is because Boreoutdoes not lead professionals to physical collapse Professionals in Boreoutmay be physically in their companies but with their heads and spirits far away. And they can prolong this state for a long time Hence the chronic boredom. Adding to this there’s the difficulty of the management or human resources team to signal boreout. For many companies dealing with something associated with lack of interest or motivation is very difficult and even, in many cases, a taboo.
So the symptoms of Boreoutlead professionals to adopt various strategies of pure avoidance, which create the illusion of high occupation and even some stress. They want to appear very busy and not get any new jobs Although prolonging their Boreout state, it prevents them from losing their jobs.
And what are the consequences for individuals? The list is heavy: chronic dissatisfaction and fatigue, low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and can culminate in deep depression.
For companies the consequences are also obvious: nonproductivity has significant costs, wasted skills, feelings of injustice, impacts the employee engagement and ultimately turnoversat unplanned or unexpected times.
Here are some more notes from various international studies related to Boreout:
- 2 times higher incidence in millennials
- Affects very negatively Customer Orientation in Service professionals.
- 550 billion dollars of annual losses due to productivity losses (in the United States).
- Significant impact due to the pandemic and the widespread use of telecommuting: individuals locked at home in consecutive web meetings, surrounded by the same 4 walls performing the same work in closed and repeated routines.
Here I invite professionals from the Contact Centers sector to see the impacts of all the studies presented above in our sector.
How to face the Boreout? We have seen above what makes it different and even difficult to identify So, the first critical step is to assume that it exists and how it manifests itself. From there several actions can be taken by individuals and organizations.
It all starts with the individual and what he/she can do to combat Boreout. In the limit, the individual can make the decision to seek another professional direction and purpose. But he can also ask for more training and/or learn something new, seek the support of a mentor, and even talk to his boss about his desire to break something chronic and together make commitments.
In fact, management plays a very important role, because they are the ones who can influence the culture of the company, work on the feeling of belonging and implement something meaningful. They can introduce small changes in tasks or jobs, making them less boring and more attractive.
Finally, the organizations have to assimilate what Boreoutis and put it on an equal footing with Burnout, presenteeism, work life balance and remote work.