Bored workers turn to chocolate and drink

A quarter of office workers suffer chronic boredom, and the ways they cope with it can be bad for their physical or mental health.

That is the finding presented today to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology in Chester by Dr Sandi Mann from the University of Central Lancashire.

Dr Mann asked 102 office workers to complete questionnaires asking about their experience of boredom at work and how they cope with it. The results showed that a quarter of the workers suffer chronic boredom, with eating chocolate and drinking coffee being among the things they do to reduce it. Workers also reported that they were more likely to drink alcohol at the end of a boring day.

Being bored also affected how well the workers were able to do their jobs. Almost 80 per cent felt that being bored causes them to lose concentration and over 50 per cent felt it led them to make mistakes. Almost half the respondents felt that workplace boredom might lead them to leave their current job

Dr Mann says:

“My analysis of the results suggests that the most significant cause of office boredom is an undemanding workload. So managers should look at ways of reducing sources of workplace boredom and at encouraging healthier ways of coping.

"Reducing the sources of boredom could involve enrichment programmes such as job rotation, multi-skilling and empowerment. Encouraging healthier ways of coping could include education or providing healthy snacks and drinks in canteens.

"We also found that some people are far more prone to boredom than others. Managers might consider using boredom proneness as a tool when they are selecting staff or making decisions about staff development.”