Safety Research

Job Boredom a Workplace Hazard?

New research suggests a clear association between job boredom and negative health- and work-related perceptions.
By: | September 28, 2014

Job boredom can be hazardous to your health. That’s the conclusion of a study of workers in Finland. Researchers looked at more than 11,000 workers in 87 workplaces to see whether there was a correlation between job boredom, health, and job attitudes.

“We found a clear association between job boredom and negative health- and work-related perceptions,” the researchers concluded. “Boredom increased the likelihood of poor self-rated health, stress symptoms, poor workability and turnover and early retirement intentions.”

Writing in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the authors defined job boredom as passiveness, a lack of interest in tasks, and an inability to concentrate. It was associated with low job demands and low job resources — autonomy and social support from colleagues and supervisors.

Data was collected in 2011 through either an electronic or a postal survey questionnaire sent to 20,333 employees, of which 11,468 responded. The answers indicated poorer health outcomes and more stress symptoms were associated with job boredom.

“Employees experiencing job boredom were 1.5 times more likely to rate their health as poor,” the report said. “Bored employees were 1.3 times more likely to experience stress symptoms than their less bored colleagues.”

Workers most affected by job boredom were those in the transportation, manufacturing, arts, recreation, and entertainment industries. Males under 36 years old were also especially susceptible to job boredom. Workers in finance and insurance, health and social work, and education were the least bored.

“As a practical implication, it would benefit organizations to pay attention to redesigning work in a way that provides employees with challenging jobs and opportunities for development,” the report suggests. “Special focus should be given to providing young employees with opportunities to use and develop their potential. In addition, organizations could support the efforts of employees to actively influence the boundaries of their jobs themselves to alleviate boredom.”

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected].

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