PB Upskills: are you and your salon team suffering with boreout (boredom syndrome)?

It was no surprise when burnout was recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease last year. Burnout is understood as a “state of being” – a physical and mental condition resulting from chronic workplace stress. But, a new and equally damaging phenomenon has come to the fore, boreout. 

Boreout, aka boredom syndrome, is something the general public and our industry has been dealing with for some time but which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, bringing it into mainstream discussion. Boreout is considered as a state of being too, but one in which a person is exhausted by boredom, repetition and having little or no motivation when ordinarily they had this in abundance.  

The symptoms of boreout, although not as exhaustive as burnout, are low self-esteem, feelings of shame and culpability, avoidance strategies (killing time), feeling disconnected at work, a crisis of social identity, feeling of societal uselessness and low-grade depression. Given the “seasonality” factor of our industry – the peaks and troughs of demand – it makes this condition even more prevalent. 

Why do I need to address boreout in my salon?

One of my opinions on this condition is ensuring that there is a divide between you and work, making sure there is enough stimulus out of “work life” available to you to ensure balance. Those who work in the beauty industry so often become their businesses, so learning to separate the two is half the battle.

This condition, as with burnout, comes at a cost to any organisation – the consequences being disengaged workers, absenteeism, high staff turnover (which our sector is sadly known for), work stoppage and even resignations. 

Younger employees are particularly susceptible to this, but it would be mindful to consider these staff members and work towards providing them with a roadmap of what their career looks like with you as their expectations of their first job can sometimes be impossible to meet, so communicate this and compromise but with structure.

It would have taken superhuman powers to not have experienced boreout during any of the coronavirus lockdowns, and I would imagine that most beauty professionals have experienced both ends of the scale – burnout due to packing in every single client to make up for financial losses when reopening, and then boreout as a forced symptom due to the lockdowns we’ve endured. 

Nine ways to manage the symptoms of boreout:

Being mindful that this is a universal issue, felt by so many, can bring comfort. As an industry, we need to bring awareness about it and learn how to manage the associated mind state that comes with it. This is essential.

1. Start the conversation

Talk to you peers and colleagues as a collective togetherness can be such a support. Review the language you use, communicate to staff that you will make the effort to ensure that you make time to speak to each other without judgement, and learn to listen with empathy. Create a culture within your work place that it is essential to find the time to talk. 

2. Review your role

Look at areas that no longer serve you and investigate new avenues. Start the conversation with your manager about what your career looks like – an emotional audit of what is working for you and what isn’t, areas that you find challenging, and perhaps even a discussion on openings/opportunities within the organisation. Don’t wait to be invited for PDPs, actively request and schedule one-to-one time in with your managers. 

3. Be visible

Show up and show off – what are you really capable of? Blend into your environment but don’t blend in. Contribute the best of yourself during your working hours. Be seen and be heard, communicate your ambitions to the team and management, and be proactive in what you can offer to your company or organisation that sets you apart.

4. What to do if you’re a manager

Look at your team and work to promote and incentivise them. As a leader, communicate your strategies to the team, reinforce that their wellbeing is now part of their job description and ensure that you have the correct structure in place to support you also. 

5. Sign up for something that doesn’t involve work

Take up a hobby that is mindful in practice. Make a pledge to learn something new and the polar opposite to your usual preference. It could be something that fills you with a sense of purpose, such as volunteering. Commit to this wholeheartedly and you’ll find that your energy will grow. 

6. Focus on what is right and change the narrative

This is about addressing the negative chat that amplifies your position. Remember, the brain does what you tell it, so tell it the good things. Jobs are repetitive and can be monotonous, it’s about how you react and respond to that aspect of your role. Accept and don’t dwell – find a rhythm in the mundane. 

7. Encourage a resourceful state of mind 

Find a mentor to support your growth and ambition, and write down small but achievable steps that are yours and yours alone. Setting achievable small wins that encourage you to go out of your comfort zone and that push the boundaries of what you believe you are capable of. 

8. Propose more responsibility within the work place 

If you’re a manager, delegate more. If you’re an employee, ask for more responsibility. When doing this, making lists can be beneficial, but keep it relatively small so it is less daunting.

9. Use positive affirmations daily 

Manifestation can encourage positive thoughts and feelings, and repetition of speaking in the present can bring a change of mind. Positive affirmations have been used to successfully help with mental wellbeing and improve low self-esteem. The Low Ears group has created the first industry sector branded affirmation decks that can also be used as a marketing tool. Check them out here.

The beauty industry is hinged on creating spaces for others to take time out from their own lives and we actively encourage this practise, but more often than not, without the consideration of the impact this can have on ourselves.  

Sam Pearce headshotSam Pearce is founder of Low Ears – an initiative helping to safeguard the mental health of the beauty industry. She previously owned PB Award-winning salon The Potting Shed. 

Are you suffering, or have you suffered, with boreout? Tell us your thoughts below. 

Don’t miss – 8 ways to manage you and your team’s mental health during Covid-19