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Workplace boredom coping: health, safety, and HR implications

Annilee M. Game (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 14 August 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how people cope with boredom at work, and whether differences in “boredom coping” effectiveness are associated with differences in employee well‐being, and safety behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used two methods to gather information for this paper. Employees in a chemical processing organisation (n=212) completed a survey of individual boredom coping levels, self‐reported safety compliance, and a range of well‐being variables. Also, critical incident interviews with a sub‐sample of survey respondents (n=16) elicited strategies that employees use to cope with boredom at work.

Findings

High boredom‐copers reported better well‐being and greater compliance with organisational safety rules compared with low boredom‐copers. Relative to low boredom‐copers, high boredom‐copers tended to cope with boredom in ways that were more functional for themselves and the organisation.

Research limitations/implications

Because the research was exploratory and cross‐sectional conclusions are necessarily tentative. However, the findings add to the scant body of knowledge about workplace boredom and serve as a useful guide to future research.

Practical implications

This approach offers new insights into how the negative effects of boredom might be managed in future, both individually and organisationally. Training in boredom coping skills, in conjunction with job redesign initiatives, may help to reduce the frequency and impact of boredom at work.

Originality/value

Boredom at work is an important yet neglected area of human resource management research. The present study is the first to examine the construct of “boredom coping” at work and to demonstrate a potential link between differences in boredom coping tendency and employee health and safety outcomes.

Keywords

Citation

Game, A.M. (2007), "Workplace boredom coping: health, safety, and HR implications", Personnel Review, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 701-721. https://doi.org/10.1108/00483480710774007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited