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I read a news article the other day covering a story which at first I thought had to be a hoax but as I read on I realised was legitimate for a number of reasons.
The story related to a Frenchman who is suing his former employer for “bore out” which has been labelled boredom’s equivalent of burnout. The claimant’s position was that his job turned him into a professional zombie and he was claiming the equivalent of £3280,000 in damages for being “killed professionally through boredom”. He said that the company’s aim was to bore him to death so that they could fire him without redundancy payments or compensation. Clearly the company he works for have their own position and claim serious inconsistencies in the claimant’s position, but this case does pose a number of interesting questions.
There is nothing new in the idea that boredom like “burn out” can lead to stress and depression. At the same time, people react differently to boredom. Take the example of the Cambridge graduate who was headhunted for a supermarket graduate scheme who found the 3 year programme so dull that she gave it up at the end and retrained to be teacher. When she handed in her notice no one could quite believe it because she had been “doing so well”. The reality was that her capability had been so underestimated that she was completely bored and needed a new challenge. Clearly there was a massive disconnect.
So who is to blame? Do employers have an obligation to ensure their employees feel rewarded? That they are being given work that is challenging and interesting? Should employees be encouraged more to speak out when they feel bored or are ready to take on more responsibility? Answers on a postcard!
How do you think you would react to boredom at work? Would you let it consume you are or would you do something about it?
As part of my day to day job I speak to candidates on a daily basis about what it is about their job they enjoy and don’t enjoy and what they are looking for from their next role. By nature solicitors tend to be slightly more cautious characters. They are not looking to move jobs just for the sake of it. By understanding their drivers and motivations, I am better placed to talk to them about the roles that will fix their problem, be that boredom or otherwise.