Bore-Outs in the workplace: how can we prevent them?

Last July, the news broke that Frederic Desnard – an ex-manager for French perfume company Interparfums – was suing his ex-employer for a whopping €360,000 for rendering him ‘mis au placard’ – essentially bored stiff while at work. Desnard described how his work was so dull that it had turned him into a ‘professional zombie’ (though not the evil, brain-munching kind, we hope!). What makes this story even more surprising is that Desnard’s ex-job was actually earning him €80,000 a year, which isn’t exactly the lowest salary in the books. This tips the common saying that ‘money buys happiness’ completely on its head – because instead of buying him happiness, Desnard’s job was buying him a workplace condition which, until recently, had been overlooked: Bore-Outs.

Bore-Outs are becoming more common, and we now have proof that money can’t buy happiness. So what does this mean for managers and leaders? It means that simply offering a high salary or financial benefits isn’t going to make your employees jump for joy at the prospect of coming into work. Research by Gallup found that most of us would continue to show up to work even if we had no financial incentive for doing so.

So the issue is clear: money has, at the very most, little connection with how happy we are in the workplace. So what does make us happy?

Research by psychologists has shown that the most enduring happiness comes from sharing experiences, and devoting our strengths to the service of something greater than ourselves (what psychologists call prosocial behaviour). The positive impact of this behaviour stems from our inherent desire to belong to a social group.

In this light, the workplace is the perfect environment for happiness to flourish. We satisfy our need to belong, by being part of a team. And we’re also responsible for contributing our unique strengths to something greater than ourselves – our organisation and the people within it.

But, evidently, this isn’t going to be enough if the work we’re doing isn’t the least bit interesting or engaging. Having the right workplace environment certainly helps – but the reason we’re there in the first place is because we’ve got a job to do. And we have to want to do that job, or we’re not going to be engaged, productive, or satisfied.

Bore-Outs typically stem from a lack of work, a lack of interest in work, and a lack of engagement in work. And all this disinterest and boredom leads employees to a state of perceived meaninglessness. Imagine being sat at your desk every day, feeling no connection to your work and no drive to get things done. Sound like an attractive prospect? Probably not.

It’s time for managers and leaders to start thinking seriously about employee engagement. Engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity – so it’s a win-win situation for all, and an opportunity which can’t be bypassed.

Encouraging engagement with and interest in work comes down to matching the right person with the right job. And this isn’t just influenced by someone’s employment history or working skillset – it also stems from the core drivers behind their personal behaviour and psychology.

These core drivers are our Unconscious Motivators, and they’re the primary influencers of our behaviour and actions. Understanding our unique Unconscious Motivators can help us perform and communicate more effectively in the workplace. When our Unconscious Motivators are satisfied, we work in Best Self, and we’re productive and motivated.

So engaging someone in the work they’re doing involves aligning that work to that particular individual’s Unconscious Motivators. With knowledge of these motivations, you’ll be able to assess what they might want out of a job role, what might suit them best, and how they might perform.

And once you understand your employees’ Unconscious Motivators, you can find ways to tailor their job roles specifically, and increase engagement, productivity and happiness. And as a result, boredom will, literally, be out.

If you’d like to discover your Unconscious Motivators or find out more about how PRINT could benefit your organisation, email, visit our website and social media (Facebook: @discoveryourprint, Twitter: @Discover_Print, LinkedIn: Print Profile Ltd) or sign up to our mailing list. If you’d like to bring PRINT’s benefits to organisations and businesses, we offer Accreditation courses enabling in-house coaches and learning & development professionals to become certified PRINT coaches.