Bored Witless at Work: Who cares if I’m Apathetic?

Bored Witless at Work: Who cares if I’m Apathetic?


Work and Tedium. These words are interchangeable in many workplaces. Result: good people become Bored Witless.

It’s a fair bet that if you took off the pulse of every staff member in many organisations you would find that a sad percentage of them were at least comatose if not clinically dead.

Keep reading to find out what to do about employees who are bored witless at work.

Well, here is a list of sure fire ways to demotivate or kill off good people:

  • Don’t respect them
  • Don’t respect their significance and contribution
  • Don’t explain the purpose, meaning and relevance of their work
  • Don’t ask for their opinion
  • Give them work that does not use and challenge their abilities and potential
  • Don’t say thank you

Treating people this way will turn them off faster than you can say disengaged.  Pretty soon workplace boredom and apathy will set in.

Apathy is the fastest growing form of workforce cancer.   It is very expensive.  It has bottom line costs:

  • Wages paid for no productivity – can be  15%-20% and the opportunity cost of
  • Missed discretionary effort, where engaged staff can contribute 27%-30% above contracted effort simply be because they love their work and workplace.


Let’s have a look at some stats about Mean at Work and Job Satisfaction. A 2013 study by Phillips North America – The Phillips Work/Life Study found that:

Job Satisfaction

  • 96% of respondents said that aligning personal interests in their career would make them happier
  • 68% would take a pay cut to work in a job that allowed them to apply their personal interests to their job
  • Only 7% of people who couldn’t apply their personal interests in their work were very satisfied with their job
  • 48%of people who did ally their personal interests in their work were very satisfied

The Generation Gap

  • 55% of Gen X and Gen Y have changed careers and jobs to align their personal interests with their job
  • 55% of Gen X and Gen Y think that applying their personal passions to their work is important

Men v Women

  • 53% of men and 70% of women were unable to pursue their personal passions through their work
  • 49% of men and 55% of women felt that their current job did not bring great mean to their life
  • 75% of men and 57% of women would be willing to take a pay decrease if they could switch to a job that allowed to focus on their personal passions in the workplace.

What would the great Dr W. Edwards Deming (QA TQM Productivity fame) think about this?

Very strong chance he would be a strong advocate.  He was a great believer in ensuring that people understood the significance of their work and where they fitted into the company achieving its aims and purposes plus 2 of his 14 points are very relevant:

2. Adapt of the new philosophy of the day; industries and economies are always changing

12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship.

It’s too expensive to have a bored and apathetic workforce.  It’s also unnecessary, particularly when there are proven remedies to fix it.

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