Bored at work? You’re not alone

According to Robert Half, Australian workers are spending almost a fifth of their week bored on the job. Read more here.

Employees spend an average of six hours a week bored at work, according to their managers

  • 87% of Australian managers say their staff are bored at work.
  • Australian managers say their employees are spending on average 16% of their week bored at work.
  • The main reasons Australians are bored at work include the nature of the work not being interesting (44%), too many meetings (37%) and lack of diversity within the role (34%). 

Australian workers are spending almost a fifth of their week bored on the job, according to new independent research among 460 hiring managers commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half. On average, managers believe their employees are spending 16% of their week bored at work – which is equivalent to six hours a week for someone working a 7.5-hour day [1]. 

Employees in Western Australia seem to be the most bored, with managers anticipating that staff spend more than six (6.4) hours a week uninterested in their jobs. This is closely followed by Queensland (6), Victoria (6) and New South Wales (5.25), who are estimated to spend between 5-6 hours a week bored at work. 

Nicole Gorton, Director of Robert Half Australia said: “Boredom in the workplace can happen and should not be alarming if it’s limited and happens sporadically. The impact however on organisational productivity from consistently disengaged staff cannot be underestimated as it can ultimately lead to lacklustre business results and even decreased revenue. Managers therefore need to identify what the main causes are, then take appropriate measures to remedy them.”

“With the prevalent skills shortage in Australia, companies can’t afford to have a bored workforce. The impact of a disengaged workforce not only affects company productivity and results – bored employees are more likely to look for other jobs that spark their interests, resulting in higher staff turnover rates. This is particularly true for career-driven Millennials, who are gradually making up the bulk of the modern workforce.”

The importance of having an engaged workforce is addressed in a report commissioned by Robert Half, It’s time we all work happy™: The secrets of the happiest companies and employees. The report reveals Australian employees who see their work as worthwhile are nearly 2.7 times happier than others [2], resulting in a more engaged and productive workforce (compared to those who are not happy in their work).

The top 5 reasons Australians are bored at work:

1.    The work is not interesting 
According to 44% of Australian managers, the work not being interesting is the top reason why their staff are bored at work. 

“To gain a sense of professional fulfilment, employees need to be interested in the work they do. Even though most jobs have some mundane tasks linked to it, when employees understand how their work is connected to the overall objective, they will generally find the work meaningful which in turn will limit the feeling of boredom in the workplace.”

“Avoiding boredom in the workplace is a shared responsibility. Companies need to ensure staff find their work interesting and equally, employees can combat a boring routine by asking their boss to work on more stimulating projects,” Nicole Gorton added.

2.    Meeting fatigue 
Workers are bored at work because of an overload of or too many poorly managed meetings, according to 37% of managers. 

“Despite aiming for collaboration and efficiency, too many meetings in a workday can become counterproductive and often leave employees with a feeling of boredom because of it. Managers should limit their meetings and run them as efficiently as possible with a set agenda and as a general rule of thumb, limit them to 45 minutes long – any longer and you risk losing the attention of everyone present, leading to meeting fatigue.”

3.    The role isn’t diverse enough
A lack of diversity is another top reason identified by 34% of managers as to why their staff are bored on the job. 

“Employees can become unenthused with their job if they’re doing the same work every day. Companies can boost engagement by giving staff the opportunity to develop new skills and take on additional responsibilities. Additionally, staff should discuss with their manager ideas on what type of responsibilities they would like to take on as well as how they can diversify their role,” Nicole Gorton added. 

4.    Lack of a challenge
Australian workers are ready for a challenge, as 31% of managers believe one of the main causes of boredom in the workplace is employees not feeling challenged by their daily workloads. 

“The overall majority of employees enjoy a challenge – whether it’s through learning new skills, taking on increased responsibilities or working on a project outside of their primary area of expertise. If employees feel like their work is not exciting enough, it may encourage them to look for more interesting work elsewhere. Employers should recognise the signs and in those cases assign more challenging tasks or at least discuss the possibilities with the staff member at hand – and likewise, employees in need of more stimulation need to be assertive in asking for more responsibilities or work outside of their professional comfort zone.”

5.    Not enough to do
Not enough to do during the workday is another key reason why employees are bored, according to 27% of Australian managers. 

“Companies have to optimise the time their staff invest in their work. If employees are feeling there’s too much idle time in their workday, managers should assign them additional work to keep them occupied, or delegate workloads from staff who may be overworked and would appreciate an extra hand. Additionally, when employees have too much time on their hands they should speak up and ask for more tasks and projects to work on. This will not only benefit their productivity levels, but also their career as it shows how committed they are to achieving business success.”

“Avoiding workplace boredom not only benefits a business. Being engaged and productive on the job can accelerate career-driven professionals to take their skillset to the next level by learning new competencies and taking on additional responsibilities. Ambitious professionals should speak up when their work is becoming a bit too mundane. This will not only help avoid workplace boredom, but it will also further their own careers,” Nicole Gorton concluded. 

[1] Calculated based on a full-time employee working a 7.5-hour day (37.5 hour work week).

[2] The annual study is based on the results of an online survey of more than 2,000 workers in Australia conducted in the third quarter of 2016 by an independent research company. In analysing the data, a post-sample weighting methodology was used to match respondents by age, gender, education level, occupation/role and job sector.

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About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted in June-July 2017 by an independent research company among 460 hiring managers from companies across Australia, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.
 

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