WORKPLACE / MAR. 28, 2014
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The High Cost of a Bad Boss

What are the costs of working under a bad boss? It can take its toll on an individual, threatening their health, and relationships with loved ones. However, having to deal with a bad boss isn't just frustrating on a personal level, it is also damaging to the economy as a whole. A recent study estimated that bad bosses could be costing the economy around $360 billion per year in lost productivity.

The results of the study show that, alarmingly, three out of every four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful aspect of their job. Also, further illustrating this point 65% of employees claim that they would rather swap their boss for a new one, than take a pay raise. Specific complaints about bad bosses include; failing to inspire, accepting mediocrity, lacking a clear vision and direction, and not being a team player.  

The study also shows the dire consequences bad bosses can have on the health of the employees. On average, it takes 22 months for employees to recover from the stress and anxiety resulting from working under a bad boss. Knock-on effects include a weakened immune system (which leads to more illnesses), and heart problems – workers that report a poor relationship with their boss are 30% more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.

Moving on, the study also shows the high cost bad bosses have on business. They are the cause of a lot of lost productivity by their workers, as employees are more likely to purposefully slow down or make errors in their work under a bad boss. Also, those with a bad boss are more likely to hide from their boss, take longer and more frequent breaks, and falsely take time off work claiming to be ill. In addition to this, bad bosses also cost the business by ensuring a higher turnover rate of employees – 50% of employees who don't feel valued by the boss intend to search for another job the following year, and on average it costs $3500 to replace a minimum wage employee.

Michelle McQuaid is an internationally renowned workplace psychologist, and has made it her mission to take on bad bosses in the workplace. Influenced by her own experience with a nasty boss, she has released a book with the rather explicit title, “5 Reasons To Tell Your Boss To Go F**k Themselves”. She also aims to deliver an online petition to the US's top 100 CEOs in Washington, which would raise awareness of the high cost of bad bosses. However, she believes that most bosses are just bad at their job, and can improve their performance (and in turn the performance of their subordinates) through training.

Bad bosses are costing employees their health and happiness, and in turn are costing their businesses a lot of money. CEOs need to be aware of these high costs, and make efforts to train bosses to be better at their jobs and at dealing with their employees. This is especially important to ensure that the overall health of the business remains unaffected in the long run and employees continue to contribute towards the growth of the company.


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