Office boredom has existed for as long as human beings have worked in offices. Different people have different methods for dealing with this tedious affliction. Methods for defeating boredom include obsessively checking Instagram, texting friends, ruminating about after work errands or simply watching the minutes tick by while staring at a monitor, pretending to work. Almost any tactic can and will be used to kill time.
The approaches to beating boredom in the workplace are as varied as your employee population, but the driving cause behind the boredom tends to be the same one across the board. Employees often do not feel challenged or excited by their work.
While the burden of responsibility for being productive at work does rest with your employees, you may wish to explore what steps you can take as a manager to help engage and inspire your team.
Offering ongoing opportunities for employees to acquire new skills is one great way to keep them motivated and excited about their work. Learning new skills sparks ambition, inspires creativity and provides motivation.
Learning and development (L&D) opportunities make team members feel that their organization is investing in their future. Employees who feel that they are being invested in tend to be reciprocally engrained into the success of their workplace.
As a side note to HR professionals, not only are L&D opportunities exciting to current employees, but an emphasis on learning programs is seen as an enticing perk to potential employees, and can serve to attract highly qualified candidates to your organization.
Here are a few innovative ways to approach L&D that can combat boredom and inject new enthusiasm into apathetic employees.
Employees Are Motivated by Learning New Skills
Increasing skillsets in the workplace is one of the best possible ways to attack office boredom. It keeps employees engaged, motivated and excited about the future.
Furthermore, if you can make the learning experience entertaining, this gives your team the sense of accomplishment that comes from acquiring a new marketable skill together with the rush of having a good time. This equates to added loyalty, and even team bonding.
There are many engaging and quantifiable new tools on the market that unite managers and employers in the L&D process. mondlyWorks, a cloud-based language-learning app, is one such example. This app creates a fun and motivational language-learning experience for employees. The platform enables managers to create language-learning environments for their teams, and employees interact via the Mondly app on their smartphones. Additional language skills benefits both the employee and the organization, as most these days aim to be international.
An employee who aspires to be a leader in your organization could easily prepare herself—with your guidance—for future C-suite status with motivational courses that correlate with her goals within your organization.
Online learning provides the further advantage of allowing employees flexibility in integrating their training and work schedules, and also enables mangers to keep track of employee progress, so that they can remain involved in the training through every step of the learning process.
Employees need goals to work towards. Learning skills that are specific to accomplishing goals can make all the difference in empowering your team members. Sample goals include a promotion to a managerial position in the Barcelona office, learning a new engineering trick, brushing up on the latest marketing strategies, or becoming a more effective and credible manager. Fun learning opportunities also up the chances that employees will actually look forward to their jobs, and feel a deeper sense of loyalty to the company that has made them feel important.
Up the Flexibility Factor with Blended Learning
Blended learning, a combination of online and face-to-face learning, incorporates the benefits of person-to-person interactions with the convenience of independent study done at the employees’ own pace.
The option to supplement face-to-face learning with independent study accommodates more personality types than might benefit from just an online or an in-person course of study. We already know that people have different learning styles; some people learn better in a more social and collaborative environment while others learn better in a more solitary environment, which helps some feel they have more personal control over their learning process.
Different delivery methods increase the appeal of L&D by accommodating a variety of learning styles, which increases your chances of successful outcomes.
Gamifying Your Learning Programs
To inject a little healthy competition into the L&D process, try turning the learning process into a game by offering prizes like gift cards to employees who complete tasks first, within a certain timeframe or while producing certain desired results or metrics.
You can offer rewards like gift cards or online subscriptions when an employee hits a goal, such as being the first to successfully complete a course. Make the prize relevant to the accomplishment to incentivize results all the more. For example, give the employee who is first to successfully complete her French language course a lunch at that new French bistro in your office neighborhood.
Competition can be a great motivator for certain personality types but can be paralyzing to others, so it’s a good idea to keep the lines of communication open with your staff. If anyone on your team is uncomfortable competing with coworkers, simply allow that person to opt out.
Make Nurturing Future Leaders an L&D Goal
As baby boomers continue to retire from the workforce, many companies stand to lose 30 to 60 percent of their leadership in the next 6 to 12 years. It therefore makes sense that when planning L&D programs for your employees you do so with an eye towards identifying and encouraging the future leaders on your team.
While in the planning stages of your L&D program, interview your team members and find out who among them has an interest in leadership.
Up-and-coming execs should be encouraged to take management and business courses, but courses like these are not the only way to nurture future executives.
Assign new tasks now and then that challenge employees and stretch boundaries; this is a wonderful way to build leadership skills that also keep workers on a path of growth, engaged and dreaming big dreams—both for themselves and for your organization.
For example, if you have an employee who dreams of one day being a marketing exec, consider connecting that employee with a coworker in the marketing department who can serve as a mentor. Let the aspiring exec supplement her management courses by shadowing a member of your marketing team on a slow day. She can also take on a task or two to assist that department while preparing herself for a future in marketing.
Assigning new tasks to members of their teams can also be of great assistance to overburdened managers, allowing them to take some chores off of their own plates, while stretching their employees’ capacities—and paving the way for them to realize future aspirations.
It’s a good idea to meet regularly with employees undergoing training to make sure that their learning is on-track and they feel satisfied with the program and their own progress as well as to ensure that all mentor relationships are happy and productive. This way any personality conflicts or other issues that might impede the learning process can be immediately addressed.
Positive feedback can be an incredibly inspirational motivator for your staff throughout the learning process, so be sure to congratulate your team members on a job well done whenever kudos are appropriate.
Inspiration Is Your Best Weapon Against Boredom
Research published in the International Journal of Business, shows that some 44% of employees feel that their disengagement in the workplace happens because their work does not make use of their education or is not challenging enough.
Slacking tends to happen more frequently when employees feel despair at not being challenged, or at not seeing any future for themselves within your organization.
Managers can avoid issues of boredom and loss of productivity by giving employees regular learning opportunities that encourage them to set goals and get excited about the future.
About Annie Qureshi
I'm Annie Qureshi, a training manager by profession and blogger by hobby.