Skip to Content

Feeling unchallenged at work? What now?

Feeling unchallenged at work? What now?

Most people have experienced a feeling of listlessness in their job at some stage during their career. Some have mastered their role and have found it less challenging over time; others have cyclic roles experiencing peaks and troughs of activity. Whatever the reasons, feeling unchallenged and underutilised at any time can cause a lack of motivation and instability. The challenge for people in this situation is take ownership of the issue and make positive steps toward practical and achievable change.

If this is something you’re experiencing, here are some suggestions on how to move forward.  

Ask for new tasks or projects
Speak to your boss or line manager and indicate your desire for new tasks or projects. In our experience, more often than not, your wish will be granted. If not, don’t be disheartened – you’ve planted the seed, and an opportunity may present itself once your manager has had time to digest the request. New tasks or projects often broaden the range of people you work with, opening up your networks and (if you’re lucky) tapping into your previously underutilised skills. ·        

Undertake study or professional development
Put your hand up for any professional develop or further training. Developing your skills and your working knowledge of software programs relevant to your discipline is an excellent way to improve future prospects within your role and within the industry. 

Identify improvements
Have a think about possible improvements that can be made within your role and make a plan of the suggested changes to present to your manager. Make sure to outline what efficiencies they will bring to your role or the business as a whole and remember they must be relevant and realistic.           

Seek out a mentor
Indicate to management that you’re interested in being mentored. A mentor can provide you with greater accountability, responsibility, confidence, advice on goal setting and a fresh career perspective. There are two types of mentors; internal mentors which are usually senior staff from within your own business, and external mentors which are professionals from outside of your business. Smaller businesses tend to look to external mentors due to constraints in resources, so depending on the size of your workplace, it may help to have a list of possible mentors prepared in advance.

A word of caution
When asking for new tasks or more challenging work, be careful not to focus on any feelings of frustration and boredom you may be experiencing in your current role. Keep it positive and view this as an opportunity to expand your skill set.

We asked Jane Carey, Director at Edge Recruitment for her comments on this topic. She said ‘When feeling disengaged in your role, the worst thing you can do is nothing! It takes courage to initiate change, but any good employer or manager will appreciate your initiative, pro-activity and enthusiasm as an employee.’