When Gallup surveyed a group of millennial workers the results were telling. The poll shows more than half of all millennials are bored at work.
The reasons are several, spanning a perceived lack of opportunity, to feeling ignored, and the disenchantment that comes from work that doesn’t seem to serve a larger purpose.
Why are we bored at work?
We Don’t Feel Like We Belong
A sense of belonging is a critical aspect of engagement. Not knowing anyone at work or feeling we fit into the established groups can be alienating and defeat efforts toward teamwork.
We Aren’t Challenged
Working below your ability is tiresome. It turns every work day into a journey toward a destination that seems to get smaller on the horizon, not closer. Millennials bring a new perspective to the way all generations view the world. But this unique perspective may not be embraced by employers, leaving many in a rut. Some internalize this and reside to counting down the hours until the work day is done.
We Don’t See Opportunity
In 2017, more companies are run by non-millennials, people of other generations who’ve developed different values. We want to see the opportunity to move up, be challenged, and to make a difference in the ways that are important to them.
But workplace boredom is a symptom of needed change, not a meme to define a generation. Most people want to be productive at work, to move ahead, and to make beneficial changes. Being bored at work or disconnected drains that productivity.
Here’s how you can get engaged, be productive and crawl out of a rut:
Fix a Process, Or Build a Better Mousetrap
Someone once said if you want to find the easiest way to do something, give the task to the laziest person.
Millennials aren’t lazy, they’re just bored at work, but the concept still applies.
If you’re bored you could possibly be the best person to find a solution to a complicated problem–simply because you want to get on to doing more important things.
Be sure to share your improved solution with others. Create a list or build a resource that can benefit others in the workplace.
Every workplace struggles to figure out where to find the information needed to complete daily tasks. Productivity-enhancing initiatives like this are appreciated by co-workers and can get you onto the leadership radar if that’s what you’re looking for.
Learn to Code
Coding ability can benefit your current or future employment prospects. Even if you don’t work in the IT department, the skill set reinforces logic and efficiency, and it looks great on a resume.
If you already know some code, learn a new programming language, or build an app or a website. You could even build an app or website site for charity, or help to update an existing one. Volunteering is the best way to build your portfolio and give you the contacts you need to expand your skills.
Using your breaks and downtime to learn something new may uncover an interest or aptitude you hadn’t realized you owned. Other opportunities may come from the experience, and it’s a chance to make a difference.
Go on a Business Date
Social apps like LetsLunch or Sharpr— a Tinder-like app that makes networking as easy as swiping right make it easy to set up lunches and make new contacts. Take time to build your network, learn about other opportunities, and make some new friends.
Step out of your routine and invite someone from work out to lunch. Doing will help you feel more connected to your workplace and your co-workers. In the best case, you might make friends or build alliances that last a lifetime.
Launch Your Side Hustle
Being bored at work can carry over into our personal lives, leading to boredom in our off-hours as well. The cycle becomes one of alternating dread and monotony.
Shake it up
Launch your side hustle. Find something new and interesting to do and to look forward to at the end of the work day. Join a meetup group or professional networking group specific to your field. Take karate classes, learn yoga, try hang-gliding, or join a writing group. An exciting new activity with different people can bring a fresh perspective to the workplace and restore your youthful vigor if it’s gone missing.
We usually pay for fun and get paid to work, but the two don’t have to be exclusive. There are changes you can make, even small ones, that can make your job and your life more enjoyable.
A version of this article previously appeared at Capitol Standard