Bored Employees More Disgruntled Than Overworked, Survey Says

Feb 14, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Keep ’em busy and they won’t complain?

According to a surprising new survey, bored employees have a more negative impact than overworked employees on an organization’s overall morale and productivity.

Employees who report having not enough work are often doing work for which they are ill-suited, or have jobs that are poorly designed, according to Sirota Survey Intelligence research.

These workers report lower job satisfaction, sense of accomplishment, and pride in their employers compared to all other workers, according to the survey of more than one million employees.

“Feeling overworked — a condition that could lead to job burnout — is far more prevalent than feeling bored, yet both have harmful effects on employees and their companies. Interestingly, being bored has far more serious consequences for an organization than being overworked,” said Douglas Klein, Sirota’s president, in a statement.

The Sirota survey says employees’ perceptions of being overworked spike during their second through fifth years with an employer. The survey shows 27% of employees with two to five years’ experience with an employer report being overworked. In general, more employees report feeling overworked (22%) than those who say they are bored (14%).

“Employees who complain about being overworked also feel they are not receiving adequate support from co-workers. In addition, they contend that the quality of their work suffers, they experience greater stress and tension, and feel they have sacrificed their personal lives for their jobs,” said Klein.

The survey finds that 81% of employees with “about the right amount of work” are satisfied with their jobs, compared to just 50% of those with “too little work.” The survey also shows 74% of workers with “about the right amount of work” feel their jobs make good use of their skills and abilities, compared to just 36% of those with “too little work.” And 76% of workers with “about the right amount of work” are proud of where they work, compared to just 51% of those with “too little work.”

“Complaints about being overworked can be an indication of poor quality or work processes, and it can be difficult in certain circumstances to retain employees who feel they are overworked and out of balance with their work life,” said Klein.

“But bored employees have an even greater negative impact on an organization, lowering morale and productivity, and draining resources,” he added.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.