HR & Management

UK employees reveal traits of horrible bosses

4 min read

30 May 2017

While its slew of insults may not be for everyone, 2011 movie Horrible Bosses resonated with Brits when it came to employer behaviour – and research reveals some are close to walking out the office door because of it.

The main characters of Horrible Bosses, a 2011 film starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, have grown weary of the way they’re treated by management. Such thoughts aren’t the preserve of the fictional world though, with 42 per cent of UK employees having quit their jobs for similar reasons.

Most of us know how the movie goes – Bateman is teased with a promotion he’ll never get, Day is the subject of blackmail and harassment, while Sudeikis’ boss is deemed irresponsible and a “tool”. There are guns, drugs, break-ins and plans for murder.

And while hopefully no one follows in seeking the advice of a criminal (Jamie Foxx) known as motherf**ker Jones, Glassdoor shows 61 per cent of employees mentally curse their employers, with some even gearing up to leave the company – and a select few plotting revenge.

But Eric Jackson made a valid point in 2012, stating that “no one starts out their career trying to rank among the world’s horrible bosses”. Who would? But you may have found yourself straying into that territory over time. The aforementioned Glassdoor research tried to uncover the traits employees hate to see in leaders, and it wouldn’t hurt to give its findings a look.

Disrespectful behaviour was cited by 43 per cent of staff as the biggest issue they had with management – “anything from ignoring employees to taking credit for other people’s work” – with 34 per cent despising consistent negative attitude.

Day’s portrayal of harassment in Horrible Bosses reflects the situation seven per cent of Brits find themselves in. And just over four per cent aren’t happy with employers having “bad body odour”.

General ignorance was a hot issue when it came to horrible bosses, with workers claiming to have experienced “racist comments” and “inappropriate humour”. Some 23 per cent of women even suggested bosses were too lazy.

If you thought no one would put the Horrible Bosses scenarios to the test, you may be wrong. Some 12 per cent said they would confront the situation and attempt to stop “bad” behaviour. A small number, five per cent, raised the “get them fired through whatever means possible” flag. Men (17 per cent) were more likely to take their complaints to the top.

David Whitby, UK country manager at Glassdoor, suggested bosses identify where this perception came from and whether they exuded any of the “unwanted” traits. It may just be that you were unconscious of such behaviour, but if you easily fit into the Horrible Bosses lineup then you could be facing serious consequences. 

Indeed, 41 per cent of staff simply won’t turn up for work, 21 per cent have actually resigned and 20 per cent end up taking sick leave. Glassdoor even discovered two per cent went AWOL without telling someone they were leaving and five per cent of men called a helpline for support. Women (15 per cent) were more likely to “ask for a transfer”.

“The saying ‘you don’t leave your company, you leave your manager’ still holds true today,” Whitby said. “The good news is that you can become a better manager if you are willing to be self-reflective and open to feedback. Very few are born with the innate ability to become a natural leader, so, just like any other skill, it must be honed to help you get to where you want to be.”