great boss

Why a Great Boss is the Most Underrated Employee Benefit

When you think of the best employee benefits, what do you picture? Is it health insurance, paid time off, or maybe flexible work arrangements?  One thing you’re likely not imagining is your boss. Even if you’re one of the lucky few with a great boss, most people don’t consider their supervisor a benefit.

But those with a poor supervisor understand just how important a great boss is to positive workplace culture. A bad boss can cause employee stress, decrease employee retention, and impair productivity. In this article, we’ll detail the effects of a bad supervisor on an organization, signs of a subpar manager, and why you should promote your great bosses more.


Effects of a Bad Boss

1. Less Engagement

There are several notable adverse effects a bad supervisor can have on your business. The first adverse effect a bad boss has on your organization is a decrease in employee engagement. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager report, managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores.

This statistic demonstrates how your managers are likely the reason for any specific employee being engaged or not. A bad boss can have the same amount of adverse effect, as a good boss can have a positive one.


2. Lower Retention Rates

The next result of a bad boss is lower employee retention. According to Gallup’s study, one in two employees have left a good job to get away from a bad manager, supervisor, or overall negative work environment. Similarly, a survey by Randstad found 60 percent of respondents said they’ve left jobs or would consider leaving because they don’t like their supervisors.

employee retention

A bad boss is one surefire way to push employees out the door. Even if you fairly compensate your employees, and offer a sound benefits plan, a poor supervisor trumps all.


3. Poor Health

Finally, a bad boss can have an adverse effect on your employees’ health. Per Science Daily, bosses who display psychopathic or narcissistic traits have a significant adverse impact on your staff. People who work for these kinds of bosses feel more depressed and are more likely to engage in undesirable behaviors at work.

According to three different studies, those who work for supervisors who displayed these traits had lower job satisfaction and scored higher on a clinical measure of depression. Similarly, other studies have shown a bad boss raises a worker’s chance of having a heart attack by as much as 60 percent.

blood pressure

Because subpar bosses cause their employees so much stress, it does actual harm to your employees’ physical health. Researchers have found working for a bad boss was more of a risk factor for heart disease than smoking, lack of exercise, or being overweight.

So, having a bad supervisor is a double-whammy for your staff. Employees feel miserable while at work then that misery follows them home which compounds their stress and negatively affects their well-being.



1. Promote/Hire the Right People

There are three significant actions your company can take to avoid the copious amount of adverse effects from a bad boss. The first action your firm should take is to promote the right people to leadership positions. According to Gallup research, only about one in 10 people possess natural talent to manage.

women meeting

And, most of the time, that one person isn’t the one who’s promoted or hired as a boss. The two main reasons people are usually promoted to management have nothing to do with excellent management ability: tenure and mastery of a previous, non-managerial role.

Competent people management is its own skill set. For most people who stood out in a previous role often, the transition to a managerial role can be rough. So, get your organization to focus on promoting individuals based on their leadership ability and management skills, rather than their mastery of non-managerial skills.


2. Recognize the Signs

The second action your firm should take is to recognize the signs of a bad boss. You can’t promote or hire quality leaders with 100 percent accuracy. But, you can train your leadership team to recognize the signs of a poor manager. The quicker you recognize poor management practices, the quicker you can repair the situation.

stop sign

A 2017 study by Bamboo HR found the top signs of a bad boss. These signs include:

  • Take credit for stuff they didn’t do
  • Don’t appear to trust or empower their employees
  • Don’t seem to care if their people are overworked
  • Hire and/or promote the wrong people
  • Don’t provide proper direction on assignments/roles
  • Micromanage employees and don’t allow them “freedom to work”
  • Focus more on employee weaknesses than strengths
  • Don’t set clear expectations

Your leadership team must know and recognize these signs when they see them. According to a Rand poll, one-fifth of Americans find their workplace hostile or threatening. Your workplace will become more welcoming and less intimidating, the better your organization is at recognizing the signs of a bad manager.


3. Advertise

The final action your company should take is to advertise your good supervisors as a benefit. While most people may not think of a great boss as an employee benefit, research says it is. One study found 56 percent of employees would turn down a 10 percent raise to stay with a great boss.

A quality manager is a real benefit that boosts employee attraction, engagement, and retention. Publicize your great bosses as a part of your employee value proposition and make sure candidates understand the real benefits they’ll gain from working with a talented manager.

The intangible benefits and positive day-to-day experiences associated with a quality supervisor are invaluable to your employees’ engagement and retention. As previously discussed, most employees will switch jobs, even if it means making less money, to get away from a bad boss. So, it’s your organization’s job to promote your managers as the significant employee benefit they are.


The Wrap

A bad boss, more than any other one thing, can destroy your employees’ engagement and morale. And unhappy employees are less productive which makes your company less profitable overall. Having a great boss is the most important employee benefit you don’t think about.