Going back to work after a bore-out

Published on: 4 January 2018
According to research done by KU Leuven, 5.9% of Flemish people are at risk of experiencing a bore-out. Young employees in operational positions are especially likely to grow bored with their work more quickly, which can lead to stress. This is the same stress that could keep a person home with long-term burn-out. Mathieu Lourenco, a Career Coach at Select HR, explains how to avoid such absences due to illness and allow employees who are not stimulated enough to become enthusiastic about their jobs again.

A bore-out and a burn-out are very similar in terms of the complaints. Both are rooted in chronic stress. The symptoms are the same, but the cause is different. A burn-out is due to too much pressure at work, while a bore-out is due to a lack of stimulating work. An employee is unable to utilise his or her talents and abilities to the fullest. Both situations lead to acute stress, which can be harmful when allowed to continue unabated, ultimately resulting in chronic stress. This stress reduces a person's energy level to nothing. It impacts brain activity. Dendrites, or nerve cell extensions, start to break down, which means that the connections between brain cells break down too. It is essential to get enough rest; this can last for six to eight months, or longer sometimes. Without a sufficiently long period of rest, the chance of recovery is reduced and the chance of a relapse is increased.

"We call ourselves coaches, but there's actually little difference between us and therapists," explains Mathieu. "We can only play our part when the person in question is rested, has been able to get some therapeutic care, and therefore has built up enough energy again to be able to return to work." At that point, Mathieu gets together with the person concerned to develop an action plan. "We recently helped someone who was suffering from a bore-out. This person was doing work that didn't suit her competencies and skills at all. After a period of rest, we gave her insights into specific behavioural aspects, like assertiveness, and encouraged her to change things in her surroundings, so that she could start to feel satisfaction in her job again, and in her personal life, by extension."

After recovering from a bore-out or a burn-out, there are basically two important pillars: the person's behaviour and their surroundings. The person must work on specific behavioural aspects, but changes must also be made to the working environment. This environment entails the physical workplace, the job contents, and the working relationships. "We map out what the person expects from his or her job, as well as what he or she can and wants to do," explains Mathieu. "We then create an action plan. We send this back to the manager and/or HR department, so that the coach can play a supporting role."

So, there are three main players in a bore-out: the employee, the manager, and the HR department. "Their commitment to making changes is an essential condition to the success of the process," says Mathieu. "In some cases, there just isn't enough there to create a synergy between the person and their surroundings." In such cases, the process can then move on to outplacement coaching. So, Select offers assistance at all levels. "This way, support is offered in searching for and finding a new, suitable chapter in this person's career. We are always aiming for the most feasible solution for everyone involved."