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Bored at work? You’re sabotaging your health!.. says study

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Overtime and going home late is now a work health and safety issue

Stop sabotaging your health by being bored at work

Warning: being bored at work can be disastrous to your health.

If you’re like most Australians, then you have felt ‘less than enthusiastic’ at work at one time or another.  After all, we all occasionally fall into the trap of day-dreaming about the weekend, or an upcoming holiday.  Harmless right?

Not anymore.

It’s no longer only your sanity that gets tested when ‘ho-hum’ days rule your workplace. They can also bring down your well-being, career, and personal life.

According to a massive study of more than 1,100 employees at 87 different organisations, you are more likely to experience poor health and show symptoms of mental and physical stress if you are uninterested in your job role.

This means that boredom is now a work health and safety concern.

The good news is, simply feeling sluggish every Monday doesn’t automatically make you ill. It’s when feelings of dissatisfaction stretch for a long period of time that they can start becoming health hazards, so you should consider taking a bit of time to think about your situation.

What are the workplace health and safety risks of boredom?

The ground-breaking study found that unmotivated workers are “1.5 times more likely to rate their health as poor” and “1.3 times more likely to experience stress symptoms than their less-bored colleagues.”

Boredom covers a huge variety of behaviors. If you frequently feel the following – you may be harming your own health, and the safety of those around you!:

Not being interested in your tasks
Passiveness to what’s going on in your workplace
Lacking motivation
Difficulty concentrating on your own work

Most of us know what at least one of these feel like.  What’s alarming, however, is that these are all potentially massive safety hazards that can lead to injuries and sickness that can bring down your career and personal life.

Crazy-Terrible Health Problems Caused by Work Boredom

Boredom isn’t as harmless as you think.

1. Boredom can increase your stress levels, leading to muscular tension, irritability, migraines, sleep loss, and anxiety!  Worse still, is that these can turn into more serious health conditions, drastically affecting your ability to work and enjoy life.

2. Failing to concentrate and be aware of your surroundings may lead to more frequent accidents and personal injuries.

3. Having no interest in your work role could lead you to take more unnecessary risks and disregard proper health and safety procedures.

What can workers and employers do to stay active and healthy in the workplace?

It is in your best interest as a worker or as an employer to manage your well being in the workplace.

As a worker or employee, being unable to earn a living due to sickness and/or having to find completely new work due to injury can be life ruining. You can avoid prolonged boredom and keep your health up by making sure your skills and knowledge are being used appropriately.

Speak with your supervisor or superior about shuffling your tasks to take on more responsibilities that are directly related to your background
Exhibit initiative in your work so that you can be given more autonomy and control over your work life
Join a class or enrol in a training course that will allow you to expand your skills to other departments or roles

For organisations and employers, unmotivated staff can be just as costly to your business as it is to your employees’ health. Absent workers due to stress or sickness drag down your productivity and workplace accidents can be even more costly. Some easy ways to ‘uplift’ your workers’ mood and motivation are:

Allowing your staff to rotate tasks within their own departments to encourage them to expand their expertise
Promoting their professional development by giving access to online training courses to advance their career skills
Giving concrete goals that are not too demanding or too intangible or abstract
Provide the opportunity for your employees to create their own committees such as for fundraising programs or social and hobby clubs
Review the responsibilities of your staff and consult with them to ensure they have tasks or projects that they are genuinely interested in
Improve your physical workspace and encourage productivity by adding in plants, proper lighting, ergonomically correct chairs and tables, and allowing short breaks

Summary: Workplace Safety and Boredom

As you know, feeling bored at work happens to most people, but it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

If you feel you are excessively passive in the workplace and lack motivation in your tasks, then you could be exposing yourself to massive health and safety risks.

These hazards can lead to workplace injuries and sickness, and can bring down your well being and that of your fellow employees or your business.

As a worker or an employer, you can minimise boredom-born hazards in your workplace by taking on responsibilities that you are interested and enthusiastic about. If you feel like taking on or giving new challenges, consider expanding your staff’s skills by encouraging them to enter training courses.

For more information about workplace safety and what you can do to keep workers healthy and productive, visit Safe Work Australia.

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