‘Boreout’ and employee motivation

June 04, 2024

Recent years have given rise to a new phrase in the business world- boreout. It makes for a trendy hashtag on social media and has been explored in both Irish and international publications. It’s different to a much more familiar term, burnout. However, it’s a phenomenon that can have equally detrimental effects on employee well-being and organisational success.

Boreout, as the name suggests, refers to a state of boredom and dissatisfaction experienced in the workplace. Unlike burnout, which stems from too much work and stress, boreout arises when employees feel underutilised, unchallenged, and simply bored at work. Symptoms of boreout can manifest in various ways. Employees may exhibit a lack of motivation, disengagement from tasks, and a general feeling of unfulfillment.

Motivating to combat disengagement

Addressing employee motivation and engagement requires systematic planning that fits in with the overall strategic vision of your business. The root cause of boreout often lies in a mismatch between an employee's skills, abilities, and the tasks they're assigned. When individuals are not given enough meaningful work or responsibilities that tap into their talents, they can quickly become bored and demotivated. Addressing boreout requires proactive measures from both employees and employers. Here are some strategies to combat workplace boredom and foster a more engaging work environment:

  • Encourage personal development: Create a culture where employees feel comfortable setting goals and expanding their capabilities. Use Ibec resources such as our January For You to Share webinar series which provide development supports. Regular check-ins with team members can help identify individuals who may be feeling disengaged or underused at work, setting meaningful learning and development goals can help kickstart their motivation and re-engagement.
  • Motivating different generations: If your workforce is age-diverse, what impact does this have on your employee engagement efforts? It can be difficult to motivate across generations that have different needs and expectations. Start by mapping out your team or organisational motivation path and go for impact across the workforce. You can learn more from our 2023 Autumn webinar series.
  • Manage stress, burnout and other risks: In recent years, there has been more of a focus on the psychosocial aspects of the workplace, including identifying and managing risks such as stress and burnout. The HSA has a useful tool to measure psychosocial hazards – Work Positive Ci – and you can learn more about the process through this handy Ibec KC Connect webinar.
  • Recognise and Reward Contributions: Acknowledge and reward employees for their efforts and achievements. Managed well, recognition and reward schemes can have a positive impact across the organisation. There are some essentials to make these schemes effective, including senior leadership buy in and profile. Consider these essentials in our employer hub here. Recognising employee contributions can boost morale and reinforce a sense of value and purpose in their work.

By addressing boreout and fostering a work environment that values engagement and fulfillment, businesses can unlock the full potential of their workforce and drive sustainable success.

Remember, combating boreout is not just about avoiding boredom—it's about cultivating an environment where employees thrive, feel fulfilled, and contribute their best to the organisation's goals. If you’re uncertain where to start, lean on the resources available to you. As an Ibec member, you can access support for the full stages of the employee lifecycle.

Conor Gibbons

Executive, Ibec Networks