Bored Workers Often Turn to Chocolate, Booze, Study Finds

These unhealthy treats are common ways of dealing with office ennui, research shows

FRIDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic boredom grips one-fourth of office workers, which may affect their quality of work as well as their physical and mental health, a new study suggests.

British researchers asked 102 office workers if they got bored at work and how they managed that boredom. Of those surveyed, 25 percent said they are chronically bored, and often eat chocolate or drink coffee to cope. The apathetic workers also said they were more likely to drink alcohol at the end of day.

Boredom also affected how well the workers performed their jobs. Nearly 80 percent of those polled said boredom caused them to lose their concentration, and more than half said it caused them to make mistakes. About half of the workers admitted that boredom might force them to leave their job.

"My analysis of the results suggests that the most significant cause of office boredom is an undemanding workload. So managers should look at ways of reducing sources of workplace boredom and at encouraging healthier ways of coping," said Dr. Sandi Mann, from the University of Central Lancashire in a news release. "We also found that some people are far more prone to boredom than others. Managers might consider using boredom-proneness as a tool when they are selecting staff or making decisions about staff development."

The researchers noted that job rotation and other enrichment programs might help reduce boredom in the workplace. Providing workers with healthy snacks and drinks might encourage them to avoid unhealthy indulgences, they said.

The findings are slated for presentation Thursday at a meeting of the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology in Chester, England. Data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on promoting health and well-being of workers.

Mary Elizabeth Dallas SOURCE: British Psychological Society, news release, Jan. 10, 2012

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