Two in five workers in Canada quit due to bad boss: Survey

New research from global staffing firm Robert Half suggests there’s some truth to the saying, “people leave managers, not companies.”

About two in five professionals surveyed in Canada (39 per cent) have quit a job due to a bad boss.

“Managers set the tone for the office and have a considerable amount of influence over the daily experiences and satisfaction of their employees ― for better or worse,” said David King, senior district director for Robert Half.

“When supervisors show genuine enthusiasm for projects or new initiatives and encourage open and frequent communication in the workplace, staff feel more engaged, and better supported in day-to-day challenges.”

“Employee appreciation is also a powerful motivator. The more valued workers feel, the more likely they are to stick around,” added King. “Even small gestures like providing regular feedback, and ‘thanks’ for a job well-done help staff recognize their impact on the business while demonstrating an active interest in their professional growth and success.”

Here are a few ways bad bosses can cause employees to leave:

  • A bad boss is generally tough to reach. Employees often need quick input and decisions from leaders to move forward with projects. Staff who can’t count on a timely reply are likely to be continually frustrated and may eventually seek greener pastures.
  • A bad boss micromanages everyone. Bosses who require constant updates and give overly detailed directions on how work should be done can exasperate employees. It also shows workers that you don’t believe they can make good decisions on their own. Managers who demonstrate trust in their employees and give them breathing room often have better staff retention.
  • A bad boss leaves the managing to others. Those managers on the other end of the scale — the ones who provide vague direction or leave tough decisions to other people all the time — are another reason why good employees leave. Workers want a leader who leads and offers insight they may not have, not someone who just occupies an office.
  • A bad boss schedules too many meetings. Superfluous meetings whose goals could be accomplished with a quick phone call or email squander employees’ time. And wasted time just frustrates people.
  • A bad boss treats workers like they’re interchangeable. Employees aren’t looking for a best friend in their boss. But they do want to work for someone who makes them feel appreciated and treats them like individuals. The simple things — like taking the time to ask about weekend plans, remembering the names of an employee’s children, and celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries — go a long way.
  • A bad boss doesn’t give feedback. All employees need feedback on their performance and constructive advice they can use to improve. Recognition for a job well done is also essential when it comes to staff retention. Bosses who offer a sincere thank-you or small gift card show people on their team that they appreciate their hard work.
  • A bad boss plays favourites. Always favouring certain employees for promotions and assignments is a sure-fire way to make other employees feel unsatisfied and resentful. After all, no one wants to feel like they have an unfair disadvantage at work.
  • A bad boss ignores toxic employees. When the manager ignores difficult team members and the problems they cause, strong performers often get frustrated. They also may dread coming to work for fear of having to deal with their toxic coworkers. That leads to unhappiness on the job and is a big reason why good people leave.
  • A bad boss assumes the worst. A negative attitude is contagious, and bosses who complain and drag their feet can expect the same from their employees. The tone really is set at the top. So if you expect buy-in from your team on important projects or changes, you need to give them a reason to care and display the level of enthusiasm you hope to see from them.
  • A bad boss keeps employees from growing. Managers who value staff retention help employees expand their knowledge and abilities. They know the best employees are interested in taking on new projects, learning about the latest software and even earning professional certifications. Why do good people leave? Because they often feel stifled and like they’re plateaued at their current place of work.
  • A bad boss cultivates a scary reputation. A short temper and an impatient attitude are a bad combination in a manager. Employees should be able to come to their boss when they need support, see hurdles looming ahead or worry that something is about to go wrong. If a team members feels intimidated, they might start looking for a new job.
  • A bad boss takes things personally. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Good bosses move forward after dealing with the issue. They don’t dwell on mistakes made by others, hold grudges or let conflict fester. They also take responsibility when they’re the one to blame.

The online survey was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 400 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments across Canada.

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