3 Ways To Keep Your Employees From Saying "I'm Bored"

Guest Contributorby Julie Harrison | Posted | Learning

3 Ways To Keep Your Employees From Saying \

Hearing the words “I’m bored” is enough to make even the most patient parent sigh out loud. Add a pre-teen whine to that refrain and it might even cause hair loss.

The “I’m boreds” seem to happen every summer. Apparently it’s not enough to suggest activities, provide sports gear and art supplies, or even sign kids up for a pricey day camp. Kids can still feel bored. It’s not always easy to keep kids stimulated or engaged. The same can be said about employees, too.

The words “I’m bored” carry far more risk for organizations today.

Why? Because employees in their 30s cite a lack of learning and development opportunities (AKA “I’m Bored”) as a key reason for leaving a company, according to a recent study by the International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR) and highlighted in Harvard Business Review.

No organization wants to lose good employees in this age group. They’re the future of your organization and are likely already leading parts of it. Here are three things your organization can do reduce the risk of losing its top millennial talent:

1. Dig a bit:

Unlike a child who feels no shame whining about being bored, your employee isn’t necessarily going to come right out and tell you that they aren’t feeling challenged anymore at work. This is the kind of thing that gets shared in an exit interview, if at all. Encourage your organization’s managers to ask open-ended questions in weekly one-on-one meetings that can provide some insight, such as, “Which project on your plate are you finding the most interesting right now? Why is that?” The answers will help a manager to assign projects that focus on the employee’s strengths, which research shows will keep them more engaged.

2. Remove the barriers:

Organizations have to assume that (unfortunately) not all of its managers engage in regular coaching and development sessions with their employees. This means that not all employees will be presented with appropriate learning opportunities for them. In this situation, what can the organization do to ensure that all employees are enabled to pursue new knowledge and skills? Some companies set up “learning pods” on particular topics of interest that employees can volunteer for, while others will allow open access to all courses within the corporate Learning Management System (LMS) and sample learning paths that employees can select. The key is to remove barriers to learning opportunities and give employees some control over their development.

3. Recognize and reward:

If providing ongoing learning and development opportunities is important to your organization, then recognize and reward that behavior. Let’s face it, it’s easier for a manager to sit back and let HR take care of L&D. But when you have a manager that finds unique or fun ways to challenge their employees, their leadership should be recognized. Reward a manager that is open to job shadowing or who regularly encourages their employees to take a day away from the office to attend conferences or lunch and learns.

Learning has real benefits

By keeping employees from reaching the “I’m bored” phase, you’ll help keep your top talent around, engaged, and productive. Help your employees find learning opportunities, make sure those opportunities are easily and readily accessible, and reward those who follow through. You’ll see a more engaged workforce that works harder, smarter, and sticks around longer. 

I’d love to hear from you: How does your organization stave off the risk of employees who just don’t feel they are learning enough in their current role? Please share in the comment section below.

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