A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 8, 2015

Half of All US Employees Quit Their Jobs To Get Away From Bad Bosses: And Their Bosses Aren't Too Happy, Either

Dysfunctional means not operating normally or properly. But from the sounds of it, dysfunction is the norm in the American workplace.

The question is why. Organizations have made a concerted effort to flatten hierarchies, to listen generously, to celebrate failure as a learning experience. CEOs routinely observe that their most valuable assets go home every evening.

But maybe that is the root of the problem. It has become too easy to mouth the words without actually having to act accordingly. In fact, the evidence suggests that bosses are rewarded for cutting rather than building. Hence the ceaseless rounds of layoffs, the outsourcing and right-sizing, the growth of contractors and part-timers who never quite get enough hours to qualify for benefits. And, of course, the fact that almost all of the available financial compensation goes to a infinitesimal minority at the tippy-top. Gosh, and people are unhappy? We're shocked!

The data demonstrate conclusively that a person's relationship with their immediate supervisor is the most crucial in determining employee satisfaction and commitment. So, if the boss is feeling screwed and passes that sense of grievance to her underlings, well, no wonder people leave whenever they have the chance.

Of course the problem with that approach is that the issues are systemic. Which means they are not just your organization and your boss. So if you quit for a new gig, you are trading one set of afflictions for another. In a place where, as the newbie, you're not known as well and your foibles are less likely to be tolerated.

Happiness is not a nicety. It affects productivity, efficiency, quality, customer satisfaction and profitability, among other factors. Given the reported shortage of skilled people in the economy, the question is not why anyone in a position of authority should care, but why they arent doing something about it. Now. JL

Akane Otani reports in Bloomberg:

Half of all U.S. employees have at some point in their career quit their jobs to get away from their boss.
If you're miserable in the workplace, take solace in the fact that you've got a lot of company.
Half of all U.S. employees have at some point in their career quit their jobs to get away from their boss, according to a new Gallup study of 7,272 adults. If workers loathe their higher-ups, the feeling may be mutual. Gallup also found that managers weren't thrilled with their work situation, either. Just 35 percent of U.S. managers said they felt engaged on the job. Fifty-one percent said they weren't engaged, and 14 percent confessed that they actively tune out at work.
The numbers suggest that there are relatively few Americans who don't feel like they're corporate cogs straight out of a Kafka novel. "I'm continually surprised at these numbers—they're a lot lower than they need to be," says Jim Harter, Gallup's chief scientist of workplace management and well-being.
Unhappy workplaces aren't just pushing employees toward gloomy happy hour drinks. "When managers aren't engaged, it affects their employees, which in turn affects productivity, whether people stay or leave, how often they're absent, and then ultimately productivity," Harter says. Plus, given how much time Americans spend at work, hating your job can take a hit on your overall well-being, Harter added. Being stressed out at work can heighten the risk of developing depression, anxiety, and obesity, a 2007 study found. And when the cause of that stress is a terrible coworker, your likelihood of quitting soars.
One possible fix: Be more selective about who gets promoted. "Obviously, organizations can't just change out all their managers in the short term, but they can control who they name [as manager] next, based on their natural talent to motivate others and engage workers," Harter says.


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