Your Boring Workplace Could be a Danger to Your Staff

There’s nothing dull about a workplace accident. Or is there? There is a lot of evidence to suggest that your boring workplace could be negatively affecting your staff’s mental and physical health. Moreover, there is a belief that the reason for some workplace accidents is boredom itself. Frédéric Desnard, a Frenchman in his 40s, recently sued his employer in excess of £280,000 because his job was so boring that it was affecting his mental health. He even claimed that this boredom triggered an epileptic fit while driving.

While this case is extreme, it highlights how it is in an employer’s best interests to keep their employees engaged, interested and, above all, safe. In Desnard’s case, we see that the dullness of work doesn’t just lead to mental health problems, such as depression, but it can also lead employees to make mistakes that could lead to workplace accidents and damage to their physical health. If that epileptic fit had happened while he was operating machinery, or doing some other potentially dangerous task, the results could have been fatal.

HSE Inspections for Boredom? The British Government’s Response to Dull Workplaces

The idea that bored employees are more likely to be involved in workplace casualties is a genuine concern of the British government’s department of health and safety (HSE). It has started researching the ways that bored employees become a danger to themselves and others by not paying as much attention as they should to safety protocol or by simply not caring. HSE argues that employers who are uninterested in their work become uninterested in being safe. This is why HSE has started delivering courses on how employers can encourage a positive behaviour and a positive attitude towards safety in the face of such negativity.

All of this also falls in line with the British government’s commitment to a “parity of esteem” between mental and physical health, something which the US government has also promised to uphold. Both governments claim that they want to treat mental and physical health with equal weight, and both governments have been criticised for failing to fully deliver on this front.

So will there be HSE inspections for boredom in workplaces in the same way that, for example, HSE recommends rack safety inspections for warehouses? Perhaps.

For warehouses, HSE inspections are not carried out by HSE itself. Rather, rack safety inspections are performed by SEMA approved racking inspectors; a third party who HSE recommends by name. Many other kinds of HSE inspections are also done by third parties. And so, if the government truly wants to live by its “parity of esteem” rhetoric for physical and mental health, then workplace boredom inspections from a HSE recommended third party are a real possibility.

Still, the truth is that a large amount of the responsibility for achieving this “parity of esteem” should come from businesses themselves. After all, it largely is up to the employer to be concerned with how bored their employees are and how this may affect their mental and physical health.

Engaging Employees through Rack Inspection Training?

Fresh-faced employees often arrive at a new job willing to understand workplace protocol, yet when workplace training is done badly, it can leave employees feeling the opposite. Poorly delivered or poorly explained training can leave employers feeling incredulous, hostile, and bored by the rules and regulations of their new job.

The solution to this problem is not to do away with workplace training altogether, but to make workplace training the engaging, educational experience that it should be. Training of any kind — whether that’s sales training, racking inspection training, or managerial training — is often a big motivator for employees. Training related to safety is therefore doubly beneficial because it makes employees more aware of dangers, as well as making them less bored and frustrated by workplace regulation

Engaging Employees Through Safe and Exciting Workplaces

Great workplaces have safety and excitement built into them from the ground up. Google is often held up as an example of an employer that has created a workplace which makes employers both happier and healthier — and not just through cheap tricks. Everything at Google HQ is designed to be both safe and fun. The employees are encouraged to get massages during work-time if they are stressed, and the canteen is designed so that healthy eating is an easier thing to do. The result is that Google employees are sincerely happy to be at work. After all, Google does not have its freakishly high ranking on the anonymous company reviewing website Glassdoor for no reason.

Making your workplace a less boring and less dangerous place goes hand-in-hand with making your employees happier and more productive. As a result, tackling workplace boredom should not be seen as an added burden for employers, but as something which can be tackled through a general approach to workplace wellbeing. The ideal workplace is not one where employees work harder because of the threat of deadlines. Rather, employees should want to work harder because they are genuinely interested in working safely and efficiently.

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