Boredom at Work: Implications for the Design of Jobs with Variable Requirements
Final rept. Oct 1983-Oct 1984
BATTELLE COLUMBUS LABS RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK NC
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Jobs with variable requirements such as security guard positions involve long periods of relative inactivity or the performance of repetitive tasks interrupted by emergencies demanding alertness and rapid and accurate decision-making. They are particularly difficult to staff because those people who are most able to cope in emergencies are probably most likely to be bored during normal conditions. This report reviews the literature on work-related boredom and integrates what is known about worker characteristics, objective characteristics of the task, and subjective feelings about the job that are related to being bored at work. Repetitiveness, reduced complexity, constraint, and underutilization of skills contribute to job-related boredom. People who are intrinsically motivated, who introduce change into the situation by varying aspects of the job, or who are active daydreamers or visualizers are less bored or better able to cope with boredom when it occurs. Approaches that hold promise for decreasing boredom include selecting people with high tolerance for boredom, training them in coping techniques, emphasizing the importance of the job or career development, increasing self-control over how the tasks are performed, and redesigning the jobs by increasing complexity or decreasing constraint. Because boredom has not been the topic of much research, the results of the review were limited to the identification of hypotheses that require further testing.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations