How Do Employees View Their Bosses?

Some workers may have acknowledged or even celebrated their managers on U.S. National Boss Day last week, but recent research shows the recession has taken quite a toll on the manager-employee relationship.

A noteworthy aftershock from the economic recession emerges as nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. workers indicate their relationship with their boss has been affected by the recession. Of these workers, 74 percent say the recession has weakened their relationship with their boss negatively.

These are findings of the most recent Spherion Staffing Services Snapshot survey. The 2010 Boss Day Survey, conducted by Monster on behalf of Spherion Staffing, also found that more than one-third of workers (34 percent) say they are somewhat or very dissatisfied with their relationship with their boss.

Bosses offer little support in career development, with many undermining their workers. Not only are many bosses falling short in supporting their employees’ career development, in many cases they are hindering their progress. The study found that 38 percent of workers indicated their boss is somewhat or very uncaring when it comes to their career development, with 27 percent saying that their boss’ attitude about their career development has changed since the recession.

More alarming, nearly half of workers (45 percent) say their boss has taken credit for their work, and another 37 percent say their boss has “thrown them under the bus” to save himself or herself.

Eroding trust in bosses. Many workers believe their bosses have not been entirely honest and forthright about job security, and in many cases feel little respect from their manager. According to the study, one out of four workers feels their boss is somewhat or very dishonest about their job security, and more than half (53 percent) feel their boss doesn’t respect them as a professional equal.

Many employees lack confidence in discussing sensitive or unethical issues with their managers. The study found 46 percent of workers say they don’t think they can freely and openly discuss unethical workplace issues with their boss, and 44 percent say they can’t confide about sensitive or confidential workplace issues.

“At a time when workers arguably need added support and guidance to offset the uncertainties that come with a shaky economy, many bosses simply aren’t stepping up to the plate,” says Loretta Penn, president, Spherion Staffing Services. “Managers need to create an environment that fosters open and direct communication, offers unwavering support for workers, and demonstrates commitment to career development. Unfortunately, many of today’s bosses simply aren’t delivering on this responsibility.”

Workers have little admiration, respect for bosses’ jobs. Only 34 percent of workers would accept their bosses’ job if it were offered to them, with 40 percent saying they would not accept it.

When it comes to performance on the job, many employees feel they can do it better. According to the study, 44 percent of employees feel they could do a better job than their boss, and 61 percent believe they possess better management qualities than their boss. These are perhaps contributing to the lack of loyalty workers have towards their bosses. When asked if they would join their boss if they were to move to another company and were offered the chance to join them, 43 percent said no and another 35 percent said they did not know.

“The relationship between supervisors and their employees plays a significant role in overall job satisfaction,” says Penn. “With nearly all aspects of the labor market and workplace on shaky ground, companies cannot afford to employ unengaged workers or to log increased turnover costs – two very likely outcomes if workers remain dissatisfied and discouraged with their bosses.”