Taming the Beast of Boredom : Exploring Boredom at Work and the Role of Job Crafting

par Harju, Lotta K.

Saarinen, Esa. Directeur de thèse ; Schaufeli, Wilmar B.. Directeur de thèse

Édité par Aalto University 2017 - 135-59 p. - En anglais

ISBN : 978-952-60-7507-5


This dissertation seeks to extend our knowledge on job boredom which is a scarcely studied topic in the field of occupational health psychology. It does so by comparing the prevalence of job boredom across demographic and occupational groups and exploring its relations with employee well-being and work-related attitudes. In addition, it identifies the contexts of boredom in workplaces and sheds light on the role of job crafting in proactively coping with boredom at work. This dissertation builds upon theory and research on psychological well-being at work. While prior research has mostly associated job boredom with monotonous jobs and industrial work settings, this dissertation focuses on white-collar work and highly educated employees in Finland. Three studies using both quantitative and qualitative methods constitute the empirical foundation of this dissertation. These include: (1) A cross-sectional study among a sample of 11 468 employees of 87 Finnish organizations; (2) an inductive, exploratory study based on 13 focus-group interviews with 72 employees and supervisors of four organizations, and; (3) a longitudinal panel study among 1635 employees with a three-year time lag. The research findings show that boredom at work is experienced in diverse occupational groups extending beyond blue-collar work. The results highlight the potentially detrimental effects of boredom by showing that the more often boredom is experienced, the more employees report poor well-being and intentions to quit their jobs. Moreover, the findings point beyond the traditional understanding of job boredom as a state of low activation. In white-collar jobs, different types of boredom may emerge from distinct job contexts where various factors may inhibit individuals from fully using their capabilities. As such, this dissertation suggests that job boredom involves non-optimal activation and a sense of meaninglessness. However, the results also show that individuals may prevent boredom at work by proactively crafting more meaningful jobs. Particularly seeking more challenges in one's job may reduce future boredom. In contrast, boredom at work may reduce future job crafting activities. In other words, since bored employees do not have enough energy to craft their jobs, they may be at risk of further enhancing their boredom. This dissertation has practical implications for managers and practitioners who are committed to sustain and improve employee well-being and motivation. It suggests that to prevent boredom at work, jobs should be matched to the individual's capabilities and personal values. Furthermore, employees should be encouraged and enabled to craft more meaningful and inspiring jobs for themselves.


job boredom
job crafting
employee well-being
job redesign

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