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Nearly a Quarter of All Employees Are Working for the Worst Manager They’ve Ever Had

Unresponsive bosses are 25x more likely to be called “worst boss ever”

TEMECULA, Calif., June 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – A new study shows 24 percent of employees are currently working for the worst boss they’ve ever had – and reveals the behaviors most likely to land managers the “worst boss” label.

The survey of 1,500 managers and 1,500 employees by employee listening leader Perceptyx, found that people working for their worst manager ever are 3x more likely to be disengaged and almost 4x more likely to say they intend to quit in the next 12 months. What’s more, those who were working for their worst boss were up to 2x more likely to have negative health impacts like lost sleep, lost productivity due to stress, or increased drinking behaviors. 48% of employees think they would do a much better or somewhat better job in their managers’ role than their boss does.

The study also revealed the behavior most likely to prompt employees to rate their boss as “worst” or “best”: responsiveness. Bosses who were rated lowest on responsiveness were 25x more likely to be cast as bad bosses, while those rated highest were 5x as likely to be cast as good bosses.

Surprisingly, contacting employees after hours did not feature highly as a “worst boss” behavior. The majority of employees considered it completely or somewhat ethical to be called, emailed, or direct-messaged by their boss after work hours, with remote/hybrid and salaried employees being the most likely to agree with this.

When asked how they would describe their worst boss, 46 percent of employees said “incompetent” and “unsupportive”, followed by “disrespectful” (28%) and “unfair” (27%).

The good news for a clear majority (64%) of workers is that they are currently working for the best bosses they’ve ever had. “Professional,” “trustworthy” and “caring” were the top three descriptors used to describe this elite class of managers.

Emily Killham, Director of Research & Insight at Perceptyx, says the research points to how important it is for managers to support employees on a human level. “The words that we see cited most often – supportive, trustworthy, and caring, as well as their opposites when we ask about bad bosses – show that people want to be able to connect with managers as humans rather than the relationship being transactional,” said Killham. “Managers should make sure employees feel supported with reliable, timely, and complete communication – particularly when an employee asks for feedback. This is especially important during a time when layoff news is creating more anxiety in the workforce in general.”

While both employees (40%) and managers (32%) listed responsiveness as an important boss quality, there were still significant evaluation gaps between these groups. Nearly 41% of managers rated themselves as excellent, but only 29% of employees said the same about their managers. Only 17% of managers thought they could use some coaching on responsiveness, but 27% of employees said they should seek some help.

“Employees want better communication and more support from managers, and managers and employees alike are telling us they would like more training to provide that support,” said Killham. “Nearly three-quarters of managers said they would welcome a human coach, and two-thirds would be willing to use AI-powered coaching tools to help them become better managers. Nobody wants to be a bad boss!”

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