Boredom is an unlikely new frontier in workplace research. Commonly associated with goofing off, taking absurdly long lunch-breaks, and playing internet games on the sly, new studies suggest it’s something that affects high-performing employees as well as those in menial jobs.
Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, in England, says boredom is the second most commonly hidden workplace emotion, after anger, and believes modern workplaces are becoming more boring.
“Changes in legislation all the time leads to bureaucratic procedures that people find boring,” she says. “We seem to be in a culture of having meetings, which a lot of people find boring. There are a lot of automated systems now, so a lot of the things we do are quite remote. We have more people working night shifts, which are more boring because you’ve got fewer people to talk to.”
In addition, Mann feels that, as a society, we’re becoming less inclined to tolerate boredom. She says: “People have more of an expectation to be fulfilled by everything they do. Compare our grandparents’ generation: there wasn’t any desire to have self-actualization and to reach their potential. They didn’t go down the coal mines in order to be fulfilled.
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