Unfortunately, there tends to come a point in an employee’s career when they begin to feel bored by their daily duties. Although some occupations are less prone to this than others, almost everyone has a day that gets boring here and there. But when this dullness becomes persistent, it can become a big problem.
Experts and business leaders have extensively studied the harmful consequences of getting bored at work. Studies have shown that chronic boredom in the workplace has been linked to an increased turnover rate, as well as poor self-rated health and stress symptoms. This boredom can be caused by many factors — from a demoralizing work environment to a prolonged feeling of being under-challenged by one’s role. Whatever the cause, it is important that employees find a way to combat this boredom before it affects their performance and morale.
Many employees find that asking for more responsibilities is a great first step to keeping themselves engaged in the workplace if they find themselves under-challenged. However, asking for this added responsibility can be a challenge in itself.
Jessica Vann, CEO and founder of Maven Recruiting Group, says the key to successfully asking for more responsibility in the workplace is to find a way to create value for the organization.
Finding where to take on extra responsibility
According to Vann, one great strategy to determine where those extra responsibilities can be added is to “be the detective.” She suggests that “the onus is on the worker to identify the problems that need fixing and solving in the organization. Simply asking for more work actually creates more work for your manager. Suggesting additional work is another story entirely and will be better received.”.
“All employees have a unique perspective on the organization,” says Vann. “Each one has a front-row seat of where and how they can step up, where the organization is lacking resources and support, and what roles aren’t built out yet. Use this perspective to your advantage. It will allow you to more easily assess where you can plug in and provide additional value to the company.”
How to take on extra responsibility
Once one identifies the area in which they can be of additional value, the next challenge is to identify how to communicate that with the higher-ups in the organization. “Don’t forget — a closed mouth doesn’t get fed,” Vann adds. “Speak up and ask for what you want and need in your role. The best way to succeed in this regard is to understand what you and your company need.”
One of the most difficult things for any person to do in the long run is overcome their insecurities about approaching people in power. “It’s easy to be overcome by doubt when asking for more,” says Vann. “It’s natural to question your own skills and qualifications, but it’s essential to trust yourself and lean into opportunities when they arise. Without confidence, it’s impossible to ever grow or develop.”
Still, it is important to be cautious about the choice of words used when voicing ideas to higher-ups in an organization. “Be careful not to make any suggestions that sound overly accusatory,” Vann explains. “You don’t want a conversation asking for more responsibility to seem like you are complaining about the company. Rather than lingering on the cause of the issue — which your leaders might see as blaming them or doing something wrong — focus on how your skills and perspective can add value. Try not to describe it as ‘fixing’ or ‘improving,’ but further ‘growing’ or ‘developing’ the workplace.”
Knowing when to ask for more responsibility
Another major challenge an executive assistant faces when asking for more responsibility is knowing when is the right time to ask for more responsibility. “It is important to think of ‘when’ as less of a measurement of time and more as a reflection of circumstances,” Vann explains. “Rather than anchoring to a specific time — thinking that you need to develop in so many months — determine when it makes sense to take on more responsibilities based on your comfort in the role and with your workload. It’s critical as well that you demonstrate a mastery of your original role before offering to go beyond that.”
It’s important to remember that everyone learns and grows at their own pace. The progress that one person makes in a few months could take another two years to achieve. It’s just as important that one does not attempt to rush through progress so that one doesn’t plateau in their career. “If you take on responsibilities too quickly, you could end up being overwhelmed, which would be a bad look,” says Vann. “Find the best pace to add responsibilities to your workload so that it keeps you consistently challenged, but not so much that it becomes more than you can handle.”
Asking for more responsibility in the workplace can be intimidating, but it is a necessary step for professional development. For those employees who are becoming disillusioned and bored with their positions, asking to take on additional duties can be a way to stay engaged in the workplace while also making a meaningful contribution to the organization.