Q&A: Many Employees Stay 3 Years or More with a Bad Boss

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It has been said that employees leave managers, not companies. Recent research found some surprising results about how much employees will put up with before they leave.

The research, entitled A Boss From Hell, was conducted by ResumeLab. I had a chance to speak with the company’s Career Expert, Max Woolf, about the results.

HR Daily Advisor: Your study has some interesting stats, including that 85% of employees would put up with a bad boss for a year and 38% for 3 years or more. Any insight into why employees are so forgiving?

Woolf: I think there are quite a few underlying reasons that fuel employees’ desire to stay and put up with a less-than-stellar boss.

In most cases (but not always), it’s about money. Based on our findings, 75% of responders stay glued to their toxic relationship with a boss simply because they can’t afford a pay cut. Other common reasons include hope for a better future (73%) and the job itself (62%).

When it comes to Millennials specifically, a vast majority of them get stuck with bad bosses because they are confident they lack the skills to transition out of a job.

We’ve also managed to uncover other common motives for people to be so forgiving I think most employees across the United States could relate to:

  • “Just waiting it out till I can retire.”
  • “A single mother who couldn’t afford to leave.”
  • “I didn’t want the quality of my boss to drive me away from a great job.”
  • “I was working remotely, so the interaction was somewhat minimized.”

HR Daily Advisor: Toxic bosses often stay safe from getting fired because they are deemed “irreplaceable” or are considered highly effective. What do you think about that?

Woolf: We all know the old saying, “Leaders are the ones that will either make or break a company.” Yet, more often than not, bully bosses remain at the head of lots of companies, and I think there are several reasons for it.

For one, the performance standards for managerial positions seldom exist, which helps bad bosses fly under the radar and contaminate the workplace. Specifically, companies that don’t set up measured goals every quarter are ripe for this issue. That’s because the team’s performance could be fueled by a handful of A+ employees, with the CEO not realizing that the team is underperforming. That puts terrible managers “out of harm’s way.”

Another explanation for why bad bosses are so hard to fire is a lot of them tend to blame others for their failures. Based on our study’s findings, 42% of bad bosses will be blaming others for their own failures. And out of those employees who experienced this, as many as 84% feel it’s very unfair. In essence, bad bosses are in a position to present a false image of the team’s performance to the upper echelon and, effectively, run rampant.

HR Daily Advisor: Your study found a well of hope among employees who remain at their jobs, with 72% believing things will improve and 62% saying they find colleagues likable. Is this positivity well placed? Does it threaten burnout in good folks?

Woolf: It all depends on whether your boss is bearable.

If your interaction with a toxic boss is somewhat minimized (because you work remotely) or the likeability of your peers outweighs your superior’s “sins,” such positivity is definitely well placed. There’s hardly any risk of burnout.

That said, if you work under a manager who’s a yeller or downright narcissist who’s capable of turning your day-to-day work into a soul-crushing experience straight from Dante’s Inferno, that’s when you have something to worry about. In fact, around 70% of our respondents admitted they grew apathetic—the first sign of burnout—as displayed by the lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for their work due to prolonged exposure to a highly toxic boss. Read more here…

Source: HR Daily Advisor