Three-quarters of employees leave their jobs because of their bosses… - Emerge UK
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Three-quarters of employees leave their jobs because of their bosses…

It’s not often we use a Facebook meme as the subject of a blog post, but one we noticed recently, which featured a statistic taken from a Gallup poll, was too provocative (and true!) to miss.

The quote: “75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, and not because of the job itself.”

That’s a loaded statement, wouldn’t you agree? But cast your mind back to any job you’ve left…was it the routine/duties that you wanted to change, or those you worked with – particularly the person in charge?

Though it won’t be anyone’s intention as they start a new job (that they won’t see eye to eye with their boss) it happens a lot. And eventually, the situation becomes so unbearable that a new role seems the only answer.

So, why does this happen? And if three-quarters of a company’s workforce will eventually leave, disgruntled, due to the managers put in place, why is nothing ever done about them? That’s a huge drain on resources and an expensive problem to have, in any company.

It’s actually likely that bad managers secure such positions of responsibility because they stand out as being good at their job – the ones they leave behind when promoted, that is. They’re probably identified by their bosses as being someone dedicated to the company, and someone keen to take on more responsibility.

Unfortunately, managers tend not to be promoted to new roles because of their leadership skills, or their talent at motivating and inspiring people – which, to be a good boss, are just two of the aspects they need to employ.

In some cases, a new manager’s lack of ‘people skills’ is quickly noticed and appropriate training is given, but in so many situations, upper management moves on to other things once the manager is in their newly-secured position. Then the problems begin: the workforce looks to their new boss for direction and inspiration; the new boss, however – preoccupied with the practicalities of their position – will likely feel overwhelmed by the weight of their team’s expectations.

Other scenarios involve inexperienced managers, keen to ‘put their stamp’ on things, micro-managing their staff, instead of guiding and supporting their team to develop as individuals.

If there’s no intervention at this point, situations can deteriorate quickly. The staff will begin to feel abandoned, low morale can become a problem, and either productivity dips or people start to leave. It’s usually at this point that upper management’s ears prick up, though they don’t always jump to the right conclusions. Instead of identifying the root cause, they tend to put more pressure on the new boss’ shoulders, who distances themselves even further from their team.

It’s crucial that managers have the right ‘soft’ skills when they become responsible for others; their job will be so much more than a practical role. To engage customers, you need to have engaged employees, who need a good relationship with their boss.

Once you have a bad situation, it takes a lot to change – it’s so much easier to promote the right person from the start, and give them the right level of training and support, so they can lead others. Says Gallup CEO Jim Clifton: “The single biggest decision you make in your job – bigger than all the rest – is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person as manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits, nothing.”

We’ve written a few posts on leadership and management. Essentially, the elements a great boss should have, and which they should apply within their management role, involve:

  • Good communication skills
  • Approachability
  • Empathy
  • A willingness to take risks, and to challenge the status quo
  • A creative outlook
  • An aversion towards making assumptions
  • An ability to pass on clear instructions
  • The ability to set boundaries
  • The ability to give honest feedback
  • The willingness to inspire and educate
  • An interest in collaborative working

We’re sure, if you think of all the ‘bad bosses’ you’ve encountered in your career, they were clearly missing a few of these elements, if not all of them. Managers should not be consumed by their own career, but be the enablers of their team’s success.

In any organisation, a good manager can make a huge difference. Trusting staff to be accountable for their actions and giving the team freedom to innovate and improve equals better efficiency, fewer costly mistakes, and increased revenue over the long term. By setting realistic goals, the whole team continually moves forward as a cohesive unit, bypassing the need for individual members to become bogged down by petty issues and day-to-day gripes.

By incorporating management/leadership training, a company can genuinely choose the best person for the job itself (i.e. the day-to-day duties), safe in the knowledge that any issues with the way the new leader manages people can be addressed. If the end result is better productivity and increased profit, why wouldn’t you make that investment?

If you’d like more information or help in regard to leadership and management, or implementing organisational change within your organisation, contact Emerge on 01329 820580 or email us via

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