Banish ‘boreout’ – reclaim your mojo

The negative impacts of boreout can include reduced productivity, performance and work satisfaction. | Pexels

The negative impacts of boreout can include reduced productivity, performance and work satisfaction. | Pexels

Published Mar 26, 2024



MOST people are aware of burnout - the state of extreme stress, exhaustion and overload that can dramatically affect one’s work, personal life and overall well-being.

Less well-known, however, is another sub-optimal state that is prevalent in workplaces across the globe: “boreout”.

Boreout is characterised by low motivation, low challenge and low interest resulting from having too little to do, too much routine, too little autonomy at work, or simply having become too comfortable with the daily work at hand.

Negative impact

While not as serious as burnout, boreout can lead to reduced productivity, performance and satisfaction at work - with a significant negative impact on quality of life and career prospects.

Boreout happens when you are not optimally using your skills, talents and passions at work. Thankfully, recognising that your lack of engagement at work could be a result of you not living up to your full potential - and not necessarily a result of other more challenging problems - is the first step to embarking on a new path towards success.

Boreout is not inevitable or irreversible, and there are many ways in which you can course-correct to a more fulfilling career path.

Additionally, managers and leaders can take an active role in ensuring their teams become more engaged. During this time of year, many employees would have been through a performance review. However, these reviews are typically retrospective and focus on performance improvement rather than placing emphasis on how an employee might want to be engaged.

Boreout might sound like a frivolous problem, but it is far from it - and employers should take note. It can lead to lost productivity costs, as bored employees tend to work slower, make more mistakes, or waste time on irrelevant activities.

It can also lead to employee turnover, as disengaged employees tend to feel dissatisfied, unhappy or demotivated at work and may look for other jobs that offer more challenge, variety or meaning. Additionally, boreout can affect the morale, culture and reputation of an organisation.

New vision

The start of a new year is a perfect time for leaders to assist their teams in formulating a positive vision.

For burnout, the remedy is to reduce work. For boreout, it is to actively look for ways to ignite your mental flame again and move towards something new. Identifying new challenges is key, and even small changes can be energising.

You can do this by seeking new opportunities, learning new skills or taking on more responsibility, and asking for ongoing and strategic feedback.

The first and biggest hurdle for those who recognise themselves as being in a state of boreout is to get the ball rolling and build momentum again. Recognising what’s going on and getting out of your safe, comfortable yet frustrating place by seeking out new opportunities and challenges, is very likely to set you on a new path to success and fulfilment.

* Naidoo is MD at Jack Hammer Africa