How to Keep Employee Boredom at Bay

January 20, 2017 Pete Jansons


Group of young business people in smart casual wear looking bored while sitting together at the table and looking away


Face it:  Even the most “fun” small businesses have roles or responsibilities that aren’t very exciting (or even downright tedious). While these tasks need to get done, watch out for employee boredom. Boredom kills morale, lowers productivity and increases the odds of workers leaving your small business for employment elsewhere.

Great employees who are bored often don’t reveal their feelings because they don’t want to come off as whiners. Thus, you may need to take the lead in figuring out if boredom is an issue at your small business. Some signs can be spotted easily, such as yawning, negative body language and distractibility. Others may be subtler – such as spending extra time on social media, making frequent trips to the water cooler, arriving late and leaving early, or making silly mistakes due to lack of focus.

If in doubt about boredom problems, try asking your employees directly or through engagement surveys. The team will appreciate your concern, and they may have great ideas on how to liven up things at your small business. Here are some additional strategies that can help bust boredom:


Mary Poppins was on to something when she sang, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game!” Turn an envelope-stuffing session into a race. Agree as a staff on the 10 most boring (but necessary) tasks at the office and award a prize to the person who tallies up the most time spent on them over the course of a week. Allow music, chore swaps or bringing work outdoors — whatever you deem feasible that gets people motivated.

Limit the pain

Spread out boring activities over various days and people. Psyching up to do something dull for an hour is easier than facing the prospect of an entire boring morning. Likewise, distributing monotonous tasks whenever possible helps to keep things fair and fresh. And watch the timing, too. Studies show that boredom hits hardest around mid-afternoon, so especially work on involving team members in stimulating projects during this time.

Increase responsibility

Boredom oftentimes is the result of being insufficiently challenged. Set the bar higher to inspire performance. Encourage individuals to propose new projects they find rewarding or stimulating. Excitement over this pet activity can make less thrilling aspects of their job more palatable. Similarly, expand their knowledge base through training. Learning promotes engagement, and your small business benefits from having multi-talented workers.

Express gratitude

Everyone’s efforts are critical to a small business’s success. Showing staff members how their work — even on mundane tasks — contributes to the company’s overall mission can instill pride and a desire to perform well. Sincere appreciation never gets old.



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