What happens when your best employee gets bored?

By chantelharris, 14 May, 2014

When an employee with admirable momentum and an unquestionable work ethic loses their dynamic drive, you could be close to saying goodbye to one of your best workers.

Boredom in the workplace sets in when an employee feels unchallenged, unmotivated or just undervalued. Yet, workers tend to keep these feelings to themselves. The tendency to hide boredom from seniors could be due to fear of losing their job when it becomes clear that a less skilled (i.e. cheaper) person could manage. The dread of getting assigned to more of the same menial tasks, or accusations of being a complainer could also be playing a part.

Often workers who are miserably bored at work would rather search for employment elsewhere than address the problem at their current job. Avoid losing hard-working staff members by pre-empting unhappiness due to boredom.

Identifying a bored worker

Often employees confess their lack of enthusiasm about tasks without putting it in so many words. Read between the lines when you hear phrases like “Can I just use the same format as last time?” or “I can write this report with my eyes closed.”

A bored employee might show signs of disengaging from their work. This could manifest as a drop in standards due to paying less attention, or repetitive solutions where they once showed innovation. Be aware that an employee can be coping with a hefty workload, and still be bored. Don’t confuse a busy worker with a challenged one.

A real threat to keeping a valued person on staff is constant repetition. After becoming completely comfortable with a process, even a job that was initially rewarding can feel menial. Once a worker has reached a stage where they are a master of their job description it is time to up the game or put them in charge.

Where to go when boredom strikes

The best way to start addressing boredom is an honest talk with the employee. Find out what they like about their job, what tasks they dread and their ideas for optimising the process. You might find that they can be put to better use in an overseeing role than at their current level. In this case, training them to take on a promoted position is a great investment.

A lot of management courses in South Africa can be done via online channels or part time within a few months. Alternatively you could offer to sign them up for learning a new skill that would benefit the business, or send them to a workshop addressing new innovations in industry.

The employee who is good enough at their job to get bored in the first place is the kind of person you want on your workforce. Be aware of their needs, and their attitude towards their work and you’ll be sure to keep a dynamic worker on staff.




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