“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer
We all experience some boredom on the job at one time or another, but certain jobs are inherently dull. One study found those working in the legal profession are the most bored at work. Employees in the project management industry come a close second, with people working in support roles following in third.
Whether you work in one of those top three “boring fields” or not, you probably have some workers who are exhibiting some of the signs of boredom: decreased productivity, regularly coming in late/leaving early, socializing more, or they don’t seem to be concentrating when they are at work. Silicon Valley engineering manager and author Michael Lopp writes in his blog, “boredom shows up quietly and appears to pose no immediate threat. This makes it both easy to address and easy to ignore.” I’d advise going with the former approach.
Workers who are bored quit. Engaged employees keep showing up. It’s as simple as that.
Here are five ways to keep your employees engaged:
1. Rewards and incentives.
People love to be rewarded for a job well done, and many personality types enjoy a good challenge. Offering an incentive for perfect attendance, or rewards for a job well done, can be a simple way to keep your workers happy. And it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Gift cards, free lunch, a cash bonus, or even a thank you note can go a long way to keeping your employees satisfied. Be sure to offer frequent and sincere praise and encouragement.
2. Get input.
Ask your employees how they think their jobs could be improved. If your workers are bored, chances are they’ve considered this already anyway. They may have some excellent ideas for improving their jobs, which can, in turn, improve output.
3. Explore flexible work options.
Consider letting your employees telecommute a couple of days a week. If their job is something that can be done from home, a change of scenery might do them good. If the kind of work they do isn’t conducive to telecommuting, explore other flex options such as 4-day work weeks, shorter work days, rotating work schedules, or more extended lunches and other breaks.
Give the work environment a makeover.
Something as simple as painting the walls or investing in new desks can give your workers something new to look at. If they’ve been staring at the same white walls and clunky old desks for a couple of years, you can do a great deal for morale by changing the simple things.
Take a fun break.
It doesn’t have to be an extended party to be meaningful to your employees. Lead by example. Take a 30-minute break and walk around the block. Be sure to invite your staff to join you. Encourage your workers to take a break from their computer screens and spend a few minutes socializing. Make a run to the coffee shop (your treat) for their favorite mocha, latte, or another fancy, whipped-cream-topped drink. Crank up the music in the office when a favorite up-tempo song comes on. Show your employees you’re human too and that you believe in fun.
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