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Half of US workers have left a job because they hated their boss

Horrible Bosses
Warner Bros. Pictures
No laughing matter.
  • Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s a sad state of affairs in bossland.

Gallup surveyed over 7,000 members of the US workforce and found that half of them have left a job at some point in their careers solely because they could no longer put up with their manager. “Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch,” the study said. “Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and putting their well-being in peril.”


How can you ensure you’re not that manager who’s causing employees to flee? Gallup says the key is “engagement.” The glue that holds all relationships together—even and especially between managers and their employees—is communication.

According to Gallup, bosses need to “communicate reliably and meaningfully,” do regular performance management sessions beyond the annual review, help set employees’ priorities and goals, and focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

The problem is that only 35% of managers in the US fall under Gallup’s definition of “engaged.” Fifty-one percent are not engaged, and 14% are actively disengaged—at least according to their employees. Gallup estimates that bosses who are not engaged together cost the US economy almost $100 billion annually, a figure Gallup calculated by looking at over 260 separate studies from 34 different countries. The actively disengaged group, meanwhile, can cost the US economy close to $400 billion per year. So not only are employees walking out the door because their bosses can’t or won’t engage them, but it also leaves a whole lot of money on the table.

“Engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes that are essential to an organization’s financial success, including productivity, profitability and customer ratings,” the report said. “And engaged employees are the ones who are the most likely to drive the innovation, growth and revenue that their companies desperately need.” Other recent reports corroborate Gallup’s conclusions: US federal agencies lose $65 billion per year from lost productivity alone, according to Deloitte.

If there’s any type of silver lining, it’s that this lack of engagement is really only coming from one sex: Yes, you guessed it, men. Gallup concluded that female managers, in every age group, are more engaged than their male counterparts. Employees with female managers outscored employees of male managers on 11 of Gallup’s 12 criteria for engagement. And yet, Americans still prefer to have male bosses.

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