A third of all U.S. workers struggle with 'boreout.' But there are remedies.
"Work is slow, and we're a small company, so it's not always easy to find other things to do," Ms. Haase says. To fill empty moments, she e-mails friends and works on freelance writing assignments. "The Internet is my friend – anything to make the time pass," she says, adding that the strain of having too little to do creates its own kind of burnout.
Now there's a name for this kind of underemployment: boreout. In a new book, "Boreout! Overcoming Workplace Demotivation," authors Philippe Rothlin and Peter Werder call it a pervasive problem. Studies show that one-third of workers in the United States do not have enough to do. Underchallenged employees spend more than two hours a day on personal matters. Employers waste over $5,000 a year per worker on boreout.
The authors, business consultants in Europe, explain that boreout, the opposite of burnout, consists of three elements: being "understretched," uncommitted, and bored in the workplace.
Many underutilized employees ask for more work after starting a new job, says Mr. Werder, of Zurich. "But after one year, although they hate boreout, they stop asking, because no one takes it seriously." Aware that they cannot simply sit at their desks and stare into space, many workers devise strategies to look busy. That often involves technology. "Mobile phones, the Internet, and e-mail make it much easier to pretend to work, to hide that you do not have enough work," Werder says.
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