Opting to leave a job is not an easy decision and no matter how established you are in your career feelings of trepidation are natural.

However, after a prolonged period of sitting tight during the pandemic and armed with the knowledge that employers are struggling to fill vacancies at all levels, including senior and executive roles, professionals are more confident than they’ve been for years and are exploring what else is out there.

I’m also talking with people who have made it clear they’re not looking for a new job right now, but are re-engaging to talk through the considerable shift in the jobs market, rates of pay, and what the future might look like for them.

We’ve all experienced changes at work over the last couple of years. Some of these changes have been borne out of a response to the pandemic such as hybrid or flexible working. Others are part of the natural evolution of business life – new leadership, changing culture, rapid growth, merger, acquisition, diversification, downsizing, or personal promotion.

You may have experienced change that has been rejuvenating for you and your career, conversely though, you may now find yourself in a situation where you feel “stuck”.

Familiarity can be good but going through the motions, and feeling your skills are underused is a major motivation-killer. If you have achieved your job-related goals or your personal development has faltered it can be all too easy to lose motivation too, sliding gradually into a state of work boredom.

We can all suffer from moments of boredom but when it becomes a persistent mindset at work it becomes a problem because it does impact mental wellbeing, our judgment, focus and emotions suffer, and there are correlations with depression, stress, and anxiety, conditions more frequently associated with burnout. It’s not surprising then that workplace boredom and burnout can be confused because of the way we feel, hence the term that’s been coined “boreout”.

Boreout is bad for your employer too because boredom is a major indicator of poor engagement and low retention which directly impacts performance, productivity, and morale. A study by Udemy found that bored workers are twice as likely to leave and that learning new skills and involving workers in shaping their learning and career path would effectively engage them.

Don’t assume you have to leave your job to jump-start a shift out of boredom. I’d actually discourage this as an impulse reaction. Find constructive ways to tackle how you’re feeling rather than waiting to talk about it during an exit interview when it’s too late for you and the employer to take action:

  1. Think carefully about what bores or dis-engages about your work.
  2. Consider what you find interesting, what you’d like to learn about, or new responsibilities you’d like to be considered for.
  3. It might sound a bit idealistic to you, but understanding the point of your work, and finding meaning or purpose in what you do is the antidote to boredom. The changes you need may be quite subtle but are improvements that make your job better suited to your individual needs. This is called job crafting and the goal is to enhance your performance and engagement by feeling much better about your contributions at work.
  4. Sometimes it’s hard to find that purpose on your own so working with a coach can be really helpful. Talking with your employer about career mapping, and building a plan for you that supports personal and organisational goals can be really useful too.
  5. It might feel like the last thing you have time for but networking will increase your visibility, and spark new conversations and learning that could lead to any number of stimulating experiences.

I do think boreout is a significant contributor to quietly quitting, doing just enough to fulfill your job responsibilities while you work out what’s next. It might be time to move to a new job with a new employer or to develop a completely new stage in your career, one where you do find the work meaningful and where you feel personally valued.

Do you feel burnout or, on reflection, is it more likely to be a state of boreout that’s affecting you and your career?

To discuss how you could become “unstuck” contact Amanda on amcculloch@tmmrecruitment.com.