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What Happened to Engagement? Here's Why Employees Are Bored at Work. Investigate what individuals want to learn, and align them with special tasks that will support their interests.

By Andre Lavoie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When employees are bored at work, it's time to shake things up. However, employers have a whole lot of shaking to do. It's downright concerning just how common workplace boredom is.

Related: As a Manager, Here Is How to Keep Employees Engaged

The 2016 Udemy Workplace Boredom Study found that 43 percent of the 1,000 U.S. office workers surveyed said they were bored or disengaged at work. And that's not good: Bored workers have been found to be two times more likely to leave a company than those who are not bored.

What's causing this lack of enthusiasm and engagement? Most of the issue lands squarely on the employer who is leaving employees stagnant. Asked for the main reasons causing their boredom, 46 percent of employees said a lack of opportunity to learn new skills, and 44 percent said unchallenging work that didn't use their education.

Here's how employers can help employees who are bored at work:

Provide consistent feedback.

Employees want to know how they're doing and how to improve. When they stagnate and feel that they're not meeting their potential, they tend to disengage and become bored.

A staggering number of employees feel underutilized. TINYpulse's The Era of Personal & Peer Accountability report from 2015 found that over 70 percent of the 400,000 employees surveyed didn't see themselves as meeting their full potential.

So, if employees are doing the same thing for months at a time and feel stuck, no wonder they feel bored at work. Employers need to be more proactive about this and challenge employees to grow.

It all starts with offering feedback. In 2014, the Harvard Business Review found that 57 percent of 899 respondents said they preferred corrective feedback, with 72 percent saying it would improve their performance.

Arrange for ongoing meetings, preferably one-on-one, to discuss performance and productivity. This way, employees will get time to engage with leadership directly to discuss how they want to grow with the company.

These discussions should not be focused just on how they're falling short. Identify what they can improve on and provide constructive feedback, but don't forget to recognize their successes as well.

Related: 10 Simple Secrets You Need to Know to Increase Employee Engagement

Empower, don't dictate.

Offer chances for employees to step outside of their normal duties. For example, if the company is assembling a task force for a new sales initiative, promote that opportunity to the staff.

Investigate what individuals want to learn, and align them with special tasks that will support their interests, so they can challenge themselves and pursue something they value.

Telling employees what they need to do is disempowering. They want to be heard. Ask about their professional goals. That way, when leadership is forming a new strategy, information will be available on who might be interested in helping.

Build strengths.

When offering professional development opportunities, employers should focus on building their employees' strengths, not on improving their weaknesses. A Gallup July 2016 survey found that companies that focused on developing employees' strengths saw better sales, profit and customer engagement.

Not only does this guide employees to grow and develop their careers in a way that's meaningful to them, it also directly impacts engagement. Gallup's Strengths Orientation Index from February 2014, which was used to analyze how engaged employees were when they felt their employers focused on their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses, found that 37 percent of the 1,003 employees surveyed felt their employers focused on their strengths, which led to 61 percent of employees feeling engaged in their work.

Start assigning projects and tasks that align with each person's skill set. This will engage them more because they'll feel that they can succeed and further develop skills they're already comfortable with.

Emphasize the bigger picture.

Another aspect that may be making more people bored at work is a lack of understanding of the big picture. Unfortunately, Achievers' The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement report from September 2015 found that 57 percent of the 397 employees surveyed were not motivated by their company's mission.

Promote the company mission and vision, then tie employee growth into them. Make the mission and vision meaningful and impactful so it sticks out in people's minds.

It's also important to motivate your staff by emphasizing how meaningful their work is. Show how the company makes an impact on the world. Highlight charitable donations, happy customers and other accomplishments. That way, employees can see their contributions are bigger than them.

Get social.

Start a peer-to-peer recognition plan to create a culture of positivity and support. When employees support one other, they are more motivated to do their best and be more engaged with their performance.

Related: 5 Steps to Getting (and Keeping) Employees Engaged at Work

The 2014 TINYpulse Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture report, which surveyed more than 200,000 employees, found that an employee's peers are the number one reason they go the extra mile at work. When colleagues are engaged and celebrate one other, they are less likely to be bored at work.

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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