bore out

Are you bored to death at work? Perhaps you’re suffering from boreout without even knowing it. This discomfort resulting from too little work and demoralization  can wreak havoc. Let’s delve a little deeper into the subject.

Everyone has heard of burnout, that professional exhaustion syndrome resulting from an overload of work and stress… but boreout? Does that ring a bell? It’s a different  form of pathology, one stemming from profound boredom.

Lack of interesting tasks to do (or even tedious ones), absence of recognition or even indifference from your superiors, being underappreciated, lack of interest in your work, feeling undervalued or underutilized, and a lack of prospects for advancement… These are all factors that can lead to real suffering at work and depressive disorders. Shoelifer sheds light on this insidious ailment that’s not always easy to detect.

What is boreout?

This term was first used in 2007 by Rothlin and Werer (two Swiss consultants) to describe the imbalance between the duration and volume of work performed. Boreout, which could be translated as “pathological” (and chronic) boredom, is a mental process comprising several stages that can lead to anxiety disorders. 

In a professional context, this manifests as a loss of motivation and disengagement at work, increased anxiety, a sense of isolation, etc. On a personal level, this suffering manifests as intense physical fatigue, sleep disturbances, and feelings of guilt. 

It’s worth noting that boreout can also result from a form of psychological harassment by the employer, a (sneaky) strategy that involves gradually reducing an employee’s workload to push them to resign and thus avoid having to pay severance pay.

Twiddling thumbs in the workplace: the daily life of many employees

According to a Stepstone study conducted in 2008, this syndrome affects 32% of employees in Europe. In Morocco, as elsewhere, this issue is still taboo because idleness can be interpreted as laziness.

In fact, many people are affected by boreout without even realizing it! Lila, a former PR consultant in Casablanca, experienced it firsthand: “I might have spent two hours a day making slides for a commercial presentation. And then, I did nothing else! Absolutely nothing. I wandered around pretending to work, taking coffee breaks. Especially in this field, the recommendations we make to clients are usually not followed. In short, I worked very little and achieved even fewer results. And it led to a real sense of emptiness and uselessness at work… So yes, my time at that company wreaked havoc on my self-confidence, but it also allowed me to change career paths. Thanks to a skills assessment, I finally have a fulfilling job.” 

Bilal, an employee at a public institution in Rabat, had to be patient as he took his new position . “In administration, hierarchical burdens are part of the daily routine! We depend on our boss’s instructions, except that he only assigned me a few uninteresting tasks, which I completed very quickly. Over time, I realized that this zeal was pointless and that my boss always confined me to the same useless paperwork. So, I changed my strategy and delayed submissions as much as possible, which didn’t seem to bother him anyway. And the rest of the time, I answered  emails or watched movies on my computer. Sure, I can continue to be bored at work while still receiving a salary, but this situation is very emotionally exhausting. It’s very guilt-inducing to be paid for doing nothing.”

So, how do you break the vicious circle of boreout?

First, it’s important to identify the symptoms of boreout mentioned above. Then, the best way to overcome this idleness is to communicate with your superiors. Make an appointment with HR or your manager to discuss and find solutions (new tasks, work reorganization).

Of course, if the situation has been going on for a long time, this could be risky.  Addressing the issue of boredom at work without being seen as lazy is a gamble. But don’t they say that verbalizing your troubles is the first step toward healing?


Here are some additional suggestions:

Seek the help of a professional coach.

A skills assessment will allow you to assess your situation, perhaps steer you toward another career more in line with your values.

Consult a psychologist. 

Undergoing therapy or confiding in a professional who will listen to you without judgment is already a big step forward. This step helps to break out of isolation and, above all, to identify the root causes of this boredom.


To fill the void in your days, it’s better to compensate by engaging in physical activity. It’s well known that exercise releases endorphins (the happiness hormone). So, it’s a good way to break free from the stress and fatigue associated with boreout.

To learn more on the subject:

Christian Bourion, “Le bore out syndrome,” France, Albin Michel, 2016

Léon-Patrice Celestin, Smadar Celestin-Westreich, “Les faces cachées du burn-out,” Interéditions, 2018

Picture (c) : Plain Magazine

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