Boredom at Work: Proximal and Distal Consequences of Affective Work-Related Boredom

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Boredom is an emotion that occurs regularly at the workplace, with negative consequences for the employee and the organization. It is therefore important to understand why work-related boredom leads to such adverse consequences and what can be done to mitigate its occurrence and its negative consequences. In the present study we proposed a model suggesting that feelings of boredom at work induce immediate affect-based bored behaviors, and that such bored behavior leads to depressive complaints, distress, and counterproductive work behavior. We further posed that job crafting can mitigate work-related boredom and its negative outcomes. Results of a survey study among 189 employees showed that work-related boredom and bored behavior are empirically distinct, though related, constructs. Work-related boredom was positively related to depressive complaints, distress, and counterproductive work behavior, and these associations were fully mediated by bored behavior. Job crafting related negatively to work-related boredom, and attenuated the relationship of work-related boredom with bored behavior. Moreover, the indirect effects of work-related boredom through bored behavior on its outcomes were smaller the more employees engaged in job crafting. This research enhances insight into work-related boredom by showing that boredom as an affective state can be distinguished from its proximal behavioral consequences, and by providing a first onset to obtain insight in moderating and mediating mechanisms that may explain work-related boredom's consequences. It highlights the importance of employees’ opportunities to work in jobs that do not cause work-related boredom to develop, and the role of job crafting as a potential intervention tool.

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