An article in today’s Seattle Times reported that a new study by the Conference Board Consumer Research Center shows that only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their work–despite feeling lucky they have jobs. This was the lowest level recorded in the 22+ years the Conference Board has studied the issue.
The study showed two main reasons: pay is not keeping up with inflation (especially with ever-growing health insurance deductions) and workers don’t see their jobs as interesting. Other factors at play included job insecurity and dissatisfaction with bosses. Workers under 25 expressed the highest level of dissatisfaction.
As a workplace investigator and coach, I usually see other employees, both co-workers and superiors, as a main source of unhappiness on the job. But boredom is a huge factor as well, particularly for workers whose jobs involve high levels of repetitive tasks.
So is it an employer’s responsibility to make jobs more interesting? If so, why? The answer is yes and the reasons are many: bored employees don’t perform their work very well, use more sick leave than engaged ones, lack loyalty to their employer, leave their jobs more frequently, and (from professional experience) tend to get in more trouble with their co-workers.
Cross-training, which at least enables employees to do a variety of boring tasks, is one common solution.
The solution? Solving the boredom problem is not easy given that much of the boring work in question just needs to get done. However, employers can start by talking to their people and asking them how their jobs could be more interesting. Cross-training, which at least enables employees to do a variety of boring tasks, is one common solution. Maybe music (motivational Muzak, anyone?) can help. Maybe contests of some kind would work. Just showing an interest in itself–at the same time giving employees some responsibility for their own workplace and behaviors–can make a difference.
Do you have any other ideas on how to engage bored workers? ~AS