The boreout: when tedium causes harm |

The boreout: when tedium causes harm

Burnout is frequently listed among occupational illnesses. But a new ailment is creating victims in the world of work without getting as much attention: the boreout.             

The term “boreout” was mentioned for the first time by two consultants, Peter Werder and Philippe Rothl in, in their book Diagnose Boreout. They defined it as a psychological disorder caused by boredom at work that could result from a lack of activity, absence of stimulation or be related to the monotony of professional tasks. Although overlooked in the business world, boreout can be as harmful as overwork, according to occupational physicians who have observed it. They believe that boredom, if daily, can lead to a gradual loss of sleep, anxiety attacks, depression and even cardiovascular diseases.

More common in western countries

Far from being unheard of, boreout is very common in western countries where if affects nearly one-third of employees. There are as many patients treated for disorders related to boredom as those suffering from overwork, according to the practitioners. Occupational health professionals have observed that certain socio-professional categories are more likely to be affected than others. This is especially the case for civil servants, a population that is highly represented among those suffering from boreout. Indeed, they often have the impression of being underemployed and of not being able to work at their skill level. Boreout is found at all levels of public service. This fact is explained by the lack of internal promotion, a segregation of duties some of which remain monotonous or simply a chronic lack of work.

Damage in the services sector

Boreout can also cause harm in the business world, especially among employees and supervisors whose jobs are unrewarding, with no prospect of change, and compartmentalized tasks. Conversely, some profiles are preserved such as craftsmen, creative persons, executives or the professions. People in these positions effectively see the impact of their work immediately, and generally have varied and multiple responsibilities. And the risk of suffering from boreout is reduced the smaller the business, which requires employees to be versatile.


Although there are no miracle solutions, there are some measures to combat this unhealthy boredom. Some occupational psychologists advocate speaking with colleagues, human resources managers or managers to be entrusted with new tasks or even for an internal promotion. It is also possible to ask for outside help from a psychologist, doctor, or psychiatrist. A guidance counsellor can also let an affected person take their professional life in hand and change direction, while a coach can help recover and regain self-confidence.
Commitment by employers

Employers must nevertheless get into the game and review their hiring requirements and management methods. It is the organization’s responsibility to give people greater social and pay recognition and to highlight their importance in the team and their usefulness in the company’s operation. On the other hand, although graduates are important, employers must be sure not to automatically hire people who are overqualified for positions where not required, in order to avoid the risk of steadily leading them to boreout.

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