Your high-performing employee is acting strange.
He or she shows up to work late and leaves early. They’re apathetic during team brainstorms. The work they produce is sloppy and sub-par compared to usual standards. “They’re just in a harmless funk,” you think to yourself. Be careful. All these signs point to a huge productivity killer at work: boredom.
A 2016 Gallup report reveals that 71% of millennials are either actively disengaged or not engaged at work, meaning they are not emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company. Millennials are already a generation susceptible to high turnover rates in the workplace, which costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. So the simple presence of boredom could prove devastating for your organization. As the manager of one of these disengaged employees, how do you help?
Tip #1: Identify the source
Boredom isn’t a one-dimensional problem. Employers assume it’s a product of not having enough to do, which is often the case. However, there are also instances when the employee has plenty to do but doesn’t find the work challenging. Or doesn’t feel the projects are useful to their career progression. This is extremely important, as a PwC study found the majority of millennials (52%) think that “opportunities for career progression” are the most attractive trait in a potential employer.
The point is, don’t make assumptions about the source of your employee’s boredom without discussing the issue with them first. Set up a one-on-one, and find out what’s triggering their disengagement.
Tip #2: Change it up
Once you’ve identified the specific source of boredom, collaborate with your employee to figure out the best solution.
Do they not have enough work to do? Temporarily put them on a new project with a team that needs extra helping hands. Are they not intellectually challenged? Point them to internal learning and development tools or sponsor them to attend a local, cool conference. Do they feel their work isn’t promoting their long-term career plans? Help them set up a coffee date with a mentor within the company so they can talk goals. Changes like these may seem minor, but they’re significant. It’s important for millennials to sink their teeth into new experiences and information to feel fulfilled.
Tip #3: Encourage personal projects
In addition to giving your employees new experiences within the company, encourage them to pursue passions in their personal lives. For example, if your employee loves writing, suggest they try freelancing or offer to provide feedback on their personal work. Managers might feel alarmed by this piece of advice. But what if they end up liking what they do outside of work more and leave the company?
That’s a fair concern: after all, a survey by MTV found that 78% of millennials believe it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career. Yet companies in this day and age are very tolerant of this type of side hustle. Side projects ensure employees have at least one source of fulfillment - even if it’s not from work - that could reignite creativity and enthusiasm in other aspects of their lives. And yes, while there’s a chance an employee will leave if they find their “work outside of work” more fulfilling, this is something that would have happened down the line regardless of your actions. Either way, your employee will be grateful for your support.
Don’t let something as avoidable as boredom be the reason why your best employees leave. Millennials, in particular, are a generation that have a higher expectation of being fulfilled by what they do. So make sure you, as their manager, do everything in your power to connect them to the right opportunities.
On the note of empowering employees to pursue their passions, consider rewarding with Blueboard. Their choice from our catalog of hand-curated experiences that are sure to get their creative juices flowing - experiences like Intro to DJing, learning to surf or roll pasta, or learning a new language. See our most popular experiential rewards here.