Burned out or bored out of your mind?

A survey by the Gallup Institute (Potsdam) revealed that only 15% of Germans consider their job satisfying; 16% have mentally handed in their notice and 69% are 'working to rule'. Explicit research studies into the living and working conditions of nurses were carried out in 1993-'94 by the Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg.

‘Bored-out’ causes, symptoms, backgrounds
The symptoms are similar, the causes oppositional. Just as excessive demand can lead to stress reactions followed by complete exhaustion, being under-challenged can result in boredom and a sense of total exhaustion. Result: employees who have already mentally handed in their notices because they are not given work challenges due to operationally necessary routines. They develop techniques that make them appear stressed, while actually switching to other ways of occupying themselves. These phenomena can also be observed among nurses.
Routines can be meaningful: They make work and its results easy to plan and measure – for healthcare institutions as much as other workplaces – and performance more calculable. Some workers like and feel safe with set routines. However, as said, routines can become a problem for those they make feel either under-challenged or overworked.
According to Swiss management consultants Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin, ‘bored out’ is a syndrome typically found in the service industries, where people must ‘deliver not waffle’. They drew this conclusion after questioning about 100 executives in banks, insurance companies, administration and PR.
Nurses could check their susceptibility to the concept of bored out syndrome by answering the questions in the box supplied by Werder and Rothlin.
What can you do if the test has ‘diagnosed’ bored out?
Over the course of our lives today’s interests may become tomorrow’s boredom area. No employer can realistically cover all their employees’ interests. The social relationship between employers and employees has changed, not least due to the arrival of large, global businesses. Employees must work to cover their living costs. A change of job, if it cannot be achieved internally, entails high risks.
So, you’re bored out? What can you do? Take stock.
- Is routine the real cause of your dissatisfaction, exhaustion and boredom, or are problems in your private life affecting your perception of work? 
- Discuss and try to establish whether certain routines, of which you cannot see the point, are actually necessary. Perhaps other colleagues feel the same about them, but have never been mentioned it.
- Ask how your work interests have changed and in whether a move to another department would make sense, then see if that is possible. Sometimes people only discover what their real interests after being in a job for some time. You could show your ability to learn if you adopt a change in direction.
lYou could simply work on how you perceive your work – without mentally handing in your notice. You could evaluate your private life whilst valuing your job as an important contribution towards earning a living.
The worst solution is to mentally hand in your notice followed by a ‘work to rule’ attitude, which could be the first step from being bored out to burned out. In that case it would be more courageous and honest to start the search for a new job – which is not without its risks.

- At work, do you do spend time on private matters?
- Are you under-challenged or bored? 
- Do you occasionally pretend to work, when having nothing to do?
- Are you tired/exhausted in the evening even if the day is not stressful?
- Are you unhappy with your work?
- Do you find your work meaningless?
- Could you complete your work quicker than you do?
- If you’d prefer a different type of job, are you afraid to move because you’d earn less?
- Do you send out private e-mails to colleagues at work?
- Do you have little or no interest in your work?
If you have answered more than four questions with ‘YES’, then you are probably ‘bored out’ – or at least at risk.
Source: Rothlin, P., Werder P.R.: Diagnosis Bore-Out, Wirtschaftsverlag, March 2007

30.10.2007

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