'The new stress' on the job? It may not be what you think

The Globe and Mail

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We often hear about the perils of work-related stress, how it can damage your health, your career, and your family life.

But we tend to overlook the fact that having a pressure-free job is bad for you too.

Sandi Mann, a senior psychology lecturer at England’s University of Central Lancashire, tells CNN that workplace boredom is “the new stress,” a problem that is second only to anger in terms of common hidden workplace emotions.

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“It’s as stressful as stress but, whereas stress management courses are 10 a penny, organizations are terrified to admit their workers might be bored,” she says.

Boredom is worsening, she explains, as people are becoming less tolerant of a lack of stimulation. They have greater expectations to be fulfilled at work than in previous generations, while changes such as the adoption of automated systems and night shifts have more people working in isolated environments, CNN reports.

“We seem to be in a culture of having meetings, which a lot of people find boring,” Dr. Mann adds.

Workplace boredom has been blamed for all kinds of problems, from hurting morale to hindering creativity. As anyone who’s ever held a mind-numbing job can tell you, idleness can be downright soul-destroying.

So what’s a worker trapped in Dullsville to do? Some experts suggest regular exercise, which helps you burn some of that untapped energy and boosts your spirits. Another recommended remedy is setting new goals and taking on new projects.

But perhaps a more effective way to shake off the doldrums is this solution, offered by information technology leadership expert Susan Cramm in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review: “Re-engage by mentally firing yourself and spending the next few weeks acting as if you just joined the company.”

Which do you think is worse: workplace stress or workplace boredom?

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