How work boredom is the new stress… and it affects everyone from office workers to those on the Afghan frontline

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2138733/The-new-stress-From-office-frontline-study-says-suffering-workplace-boredom.html

  • New studies suggest boredom in the workplace is growing
  • More people want satisfying jobs
  • Even surgeons on the battlefield suffer from boredom

By Lyle Brennan and Phil Vinter

PUBLISHED: 22:11 EST, 2 May 2012 | UPDATED: 06:17 EST, 3 May 2012

It saps our motivation, stops us from performing at our best and can even leave us wishing we had more work to do – you may even be experiencing it at this very moment.

And, according to new studies, boredom in the workplace is growing, affecting everyone from the high-fliers to the drones.

This is according to Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire who says boredom – after anger – is the second-most commonly suppressed emotion in the workplace.

Her research suggests an increasing amount of paperwork brought about by changes in legislation is to blame for the growth of what Dr Mann considers ‘the new stress’.

She told CNN: ‘We seem to be in a culture of having meetings, which a lot of people find boring. There are a lot of automated systems now, so a lot of the things we do are quite remote. We have more people working night shifts, which are more boring because you’ve got fewer people to talk to.

What’s more, Dr Mann believes fewer of us are willing to put up with boredom as we expect every aspect of our lives to be fulfilling – an attitude that would have been far less common among older generations  with a more practical outlook.

Dr Mann added: ‘Now, we get people quite commonly quitting higher paid jobs for jobs that are lower paid but more satisfying.’

She claims a lack of awareness has seen boredom pale next to the commonly recognised problem of stress – meaning that, while stress management courses are easy to come by, employers are in denial over the possibility that their workers might be yawning their way through the working day.

Unsatisfied: Dr Mann believes fewer of us are willing to put up with boredom as we expect every aspect of our lives to be fulfilling - an attitude that would have been far less common among older generationsUnsatisfied: Dr Mann believes fewer of us are willing to put up with boredom as we expect every aspect of our lives to be fulfilling – an attitude that would have been far less common among older generations

The psychologist’s findings may sound familiar to those who have experienced the drudgery of the average office or shop, but boredom even affects people working in seemingly adrenaline-filled environments.

THE TEN MOST BORING JOBS IN THE WORLD

One study that psychologist Dr Sandy Mann witnessed found the most boring jobs to be in the following sectors.

1.    Admin/secretarial

2.    Manufacturing

3.    Sales

4.    Marketing

5.    IT

6.    Research

7.    Media

8.    Law

9.    Engineering

10.  Banking

Last year, Mark de Rond, from the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, spent six weeks at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, where he studied the work of military surgeons.

He found that, even in this demanding job, workers were not safe from the damaging effects of boredom.

Within a week he had seen 174 casualties, 23 amputations and 134 hours of surgery, including treatment of local children.

The surgeons were in their element when faced with a crisis – but during lulls in the action the on-call medics found it impossible to relax.

De Rond says because the surgeons are on call at all hours, they can never really relax even when there are no patients and guilt caused by a lack of work starts to creep in.

As they await the arrival of helicopters bringing in new casualties the medics become competitive and critical of each other’s efforts, and become reflective about the futility of it all.

‘As they become unhappy, they become like big bears — you just don’t want to be around them,’ de Rond says.

A study on the link between counterproductive work behavior and boredom by Montclair State University and University of South Florida  identified six ways bored employees might harm their organizations: by abusing others, by “production deviance” (purposely failing at tasks), sabotage, withdrawal, theft and horseplay. The most common of which is withdrawal.

Concentration: Mark de Rond found that, even in this demanding job, such as working as a surgeon at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, workers were not safe from the damaging effects of boredomConcentration: Mark de Rond found that, even in this demanding job, such as working as a surgeon at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, workers were not safe from the damaging effects of boredom

Other studies have concluded that people who are more prone to boredom are more likely to get angry, engage in risky driving, display aggression and hostility, and lack honesty and humility.

Paul Spector, from the University of South Florida, says such behavioural traits can to some extent just be the result of someone wanting to get back at their employer born from resentment.

Interestingly he says there is little correlation between workload and boredom.

De Rond also says there is a type of boredom where professionals get bored not because they don’t have enough work, but because they feel they have nothing worthwhile to do.

He suggests the solution is to simply give people something to do that they care more about than themselves, with constant reminders from bosses about why an employee’s role is important.

Another of De Rond’s conclusions is that bosses should create a culture where it is okay to ask questions and where employees feel comfortable to air concerns when they feel bored.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2138733/The-new-stress-From-office-frontline-study-says-suffering-workplace-boredom.html#ixzz1tQacMxqm

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Posted on May 3, 2012, in Health / Medicine, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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