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Word of the week: Rust out

Corporate vocabulary constantly evolves as a new generation enters the workforce daily. Every week, Forbes India will decode and simplify workplace and business-related words or jargon to bring you up to speed with the lingo of the day

Published: Sep 13, 2023 03:01:08 PM IST
Updated: Sep 13, 2023 03:11:32 PM IST

Word of the week: Rust out
Rust out – Feeling stagnant or unproductive in a job due to lack of challenge or motivation, which can gradually lead to feelings of disengagement.

"Rusting out impacts an employee's mental health as it leads to a loss of sense of purpose."
-Origins unknown

Often referred to as "burnout's boring alter ego" or "burnout's bored, disengaged cousin," rust out has been defined by psychotherapist Paula Coles as "chronic boredom borne out of unstimulating work."

It differs from burnout, wherein an employee may be stressed, tired, and jump from one task to the next, caused by overstimulation. On the other hand, rust out is experiencing feelings of being uninspired and uninterested.

A burnout can cause emotional exhaustion, and rust out can affect the psyche because disinterest can cause one to feel undervalued.

It is also related to quiet quitting because those feeling rust out may do the least work required to stay in a job.

Feeling rust out can signify that one may have outgrown one's role and responsibilities. While the feeling may not be obvious, it can occur at any point in one's career when employees may feel stuck in their routine or not see further progress.

The best way to deal with this would be to be honest with the manager. They may be able to help with rotating responsibilities to help one take up more interesting and challenging work.

Employees can also chalk out possibilities to enhance skill sets to find a new job. However, that may not be the best way to tackle this feeling.

Introspection is important. A good step is to ask oneself how long term this feeling may be. If it is likely to be a brief lull period that may end in weeks or months, considering activities that enable gaining back the meaning and sense of purpose in the workplace may also help.

Lastly, managers can play an effective role by setting challenging goals and appreciating employees' achievements.

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