With employment in the UK at a record high, employers are having to work harder than ever to attract and hold on to the best people. There are many reasons why staff may decide to quit their role and look for pastures new: a bigger salary, a shorter commute, more flexible working arrangements… But perhaps one of the biggest causes of employee dissatisfaction is quite simply, boredom.

We’ve all been there. The job where you’ve been doing the same thing for so long that you’re just simply going through the motions, one eye always on the clock. Of course the reality is that not all roles can be constantly challenging and exciting, but if people are never given stretch or variety they will be less and less motivated. Their personal productivity will drop and they could even start to cause issues in the team, becoming disruptive or distracting others.

stagnating in their roles

So what can you, as a manager, do to help make people’s jobs more interesting and stop them stagnating in their roles?

1. Keep track

Prepare for the situation by keeping track of how people’s careers are progressing. How long have they been in their current role? When did they last have a pay rise or promotion? What training and development opportunities have they been given? There will no doubt be people in your team who are vocal about their aspirations, but make sure you don’t overlook those who are beavering away quietly. They could be secretly casting their eye around for new opportunities.

Regular one-to-one catch ups with employees will help you gauge how people are feeling. Your HR systems will also make it easy to get a snapshot of exactly what’s been going on with individuals so that you can see if someone needs a bit of attention.

2. Change it up

Think creatively about how you can reignite people’s enthusiasm or help them learn new skills. Are there opportunities for short-term secondments to different departments? Could you arrange for people to job shadow a colleague in another part of the business, to give them more of an idea of how their role fits into the bigger picture? Could you give someone who’s a bit demotivated a stretch project to light their eyes up? Look closely at the way work is organised within the team too. Can tasks and responsibilities be shifted around to give people a bit of variety, while making the team more multi-skilled at the same time?

3. Give people autonomy

There’s nothing more demotivating than never being allowed to make even the smallest decision for yourself. Take a close look at the procedures in your team and see if you can find even small ways to give people a bit more autonomy. Can you give them authority to solve customer problems on their own initiative, perhaps within set financial parameters? Do they really need to check in with you every time before recommending a course of action to a client? Could you give one of your people responsibility for representing the team at certain meetings? Giving people a freer rein will result in them feeling more engaged with their role – and you will probably find it frees up valuable time for you too.

4. Get social

All work and no play makes for a pretty dull week at work. Whilst not everyone wants to socialise with work colleagues, for some the opportunity to interact with others, and have a bit of fun, can play a key part in their decision to stay put with their employer. Encourage people to organise their own lunchtime or after-work activities and let them use the company Intranet or HR portal in your people management software to find other like-minded individuals. The opportunities are endless, from lunchtime musical sessions and craft clubs to after-work outings and company football or netball teams. These activities may not make people’s jobs more interesting, but an hour away from the grind will help them return to their desks feeling refreshed and with a smile on their face.

5. Encourage mentoring

Sometimes people get stuck in a rut and can’t see opportunities to make their role more challenging or rewarding. Mentoring is a great way to help people see their job through fresh eyes. A good mentor can encourage them to get out of their comfort zone, for example, or to approach problems that may be getting them down in a different way. If the business has a formal mentoring scheme, actively encourage your team to take part. If it doesn’t, why not challenge them with the stretch project of setting one up!

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.