Burn-out and bore-out: What can you do as an employer to prevent it?

We all know the phenomenon Burn-out. Last year, 1 in 6 Dutch people suffered from burn-out. symptoms such as chronic stress, persistent fatigue and even downturn1. The most common reason for A burn-out is a structurally too high workload. However, there are also employees who don't experience a high workload at all and are even bored, but are still in the above phenomena. How is that possible?

Image result for bored at work

Definition bore-out

The answer lies in the lesser-known counterpart of the burnout: the bore-out. In science, a bore-out is described as "a negative mental state created by underemployment related incentives."2. In contrast to people with a burn-out, employees with a bore-out are structurally not challenged enough in their work and experience boredom as a result.3. This may be because they are overqualified, do a lot of repetitive work, or simply because they have too few tasks to get stuck in. In addition, a bore-out can also occur when an employee has insufficient associated feels about his work or the organisation and is not satisfied with his work.

A bore-out can result in:

  • Reduced accomplishments
  • Decreasing productivity
  • Increasing omission
  • Less commitment
  • Early departure

Consequences for the organisation

Although having a burn-out or bore-out is above all very annoying for those who have to deal with it, also leads the organization underneath. The Silver Cross calculated that a burn-out costs an organization an average of €60,000, if you assume that the average employee with a burnout of 242 days per year sick is that average €250 per day costs4. It is therefore very important to risk factors for a burn-out or bore-out and a beginning early detection of symptoms.

What can you do as an employer?

Although the symptoms of a burnout and a bore-out are the same, they have opposite causes. There completely different measures are needed to prevent both. Step 1 is to identify an increased risk of either a burn-out or a bore-out. However, this is easier said than done. There's still a taboo on discussing mental problems. Because in the media there are always the causes and consequences of a burnout, it will change. stigma surrounding this problem, fortunately, slowly but surely. The bore-out, on the other hand, is another story. Telling you that you are dealing with chronic stress caused by your high-demanding job and long working days is so far. Say that you suffer from depression because you have little to do at work is notepad donation. That's nice and quiet, isn't it? After all, you get the same thing for it. paid for.

Because it can be difficult for employees to talk about their burn-out or bore-out, it is difficult to detect the run-up to this. Often the problem only comes to light when it is too late to do anything about it. As an employer, it is therefore very important to check structurally and organisation-wide whether the workload is in balance. This allows you to detect excessive work demands or boredom before it actually leads to a burn-out or bore-out. Disposing of an anonymous Staff Research can bring to light painful areas in this area. It is important to understand that such research does not serve as a diagnostic tool. It is purely a matter of identifying areas for improvement at departmental or team level, so that they can be addressed.

Preventing burn-out

Where the investigation shows that If employees experience a high workload, this may indicate an increased risk of Burn-out. Also the lack of a healthy work-private balance, the experience of stress and having too little time to carry out the work are signs of a burnout. Of course, not every employee has the right to The above factors will simply lead to a burn-out. One person is less sensitive to pressure than others. However, it is true that there are there is a tipping point for everyone at which the working conditions no longer apply. are appropriate and will lead to reduced performance and ultimately reduced employability.

It is therefore important to to find out why a particular team is experiencing a high workload. Is there The Committee would like to draw attention to the fact that the number of people under-utilised, which means that there is too much work to be done on the shoulders of employees? Are there (long-term) stressful situations? Or goes there is something wrong with the planning of projects that makes the workload not good. is divided?

An employee survey provides insight in employee sentiment on different issues. Next, it is important to go into this in greater depth, by means of for example a meeting or one-on-one conversations. Possibly it shows that there is a need for a new vacancy, that someone should be appointed to manage the schedules or that there are conflicts that need to be resolved... should be.

Preventing a bore-out

Preventing a bore-out is a very different story. The first step has already been taken: by reading this article you will know of the existence of the bore-out. You also know what can cause it and what consequences it can have. The next step, as in the case of burnout, is to examine employee satisfaction. Points that you can pay attention to when identifying risk factors for bore-out are, for example:

  • Becomes enough use was made of the employee's abilities?
  • Feels the employee is involved in his work and in the organisation?
  • Find the employee likes the content of his work?

When in a certain department or in a team shows that there is a lot of room for improvement on the above points. is, there's an increased risk of a bore-out. In in-depth follow-up research or during interviews can then be traced back to where this came from. ...is coming. Is it possible, for example, to have well-performing employees grow into another function? Is there a question of overcrowding, as a result of which is not enough work for everyone? Or more variation can be applied to the working days by different teams to work together?

Individual approach

The approach described above is successful in identifying risk factors of burnout or bore-out within teams or departments. In this way, it is possible to check on a large scale whether there are any changes in the are needed in working pressure. Of course, it can also be that it is within a department, on average, is doing fine, but that one or more employees that get too much or too little on their plate. In that case, the described approach may not be the most effective. There is then an individual approach, where the key role in signalling lies with the manager. It is important to keep an eye on the well-being of employees. ...keep it. Only then can you start a burn-out or bore-out on an individual level. ...notice.


It is good to structurally evaluate the workload within different parts of the organisation. A workload that is too high or too low can cost both the employee and the employer dearly. Of course, everyone is stressed and bored at times. The trick is to identify in time when stress or boredom become structural and affect the well-being and performance of the employee. If this is detected in time, there is plenty of time and space to ensure that there is no burn-out or bore-out.


  1. TNO (2019). Occupational health and safety balance 2018: Psychological Labour taxes and burn-out complaints continue to increase. www.TNO.nl
  2. Stock, R. M. (2016). Understanding the relationship between frontline employee boreout and customer orientation. Journal of Business Research, 69(10), 4259-4268.
  3. The Rider, Eveline (2016). A bore-out: Boredom at work. Health net.
  4. Wester, Jeroen (2017). NRC Checkt: 'Costs of a burnout "amount to 60,000 euros. NRC.

19 November 2019

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