Have a bad boss at work? You’re not alone

Ever had a bad manager at work? Have one now? Chances are yes. A recent Gallup study revealed that one in two adults in the U.S. have left their job to get away from a bad manager at some point in their career.

A full-time employee spends more than 2,000 hours at work each year. It’s no surprise that having a manager that you don’t jive with can affect your happiness and well-being at work, and beyond.

Gallup explains that, “having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and negatively affecting their overall well-being.”

One in two adults in the U.S. have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.


Bad bosses can be described in myriad ways—from micromanaging and tyrannical to passive aggressive and incompetent. The common thread is that the person being managed doesn’t feel supported or valued.

Dealing with managers is one of the top reasons why people reach out to Empower Work. Some experience bullying or gaslighting—when someone subtly (or not so subtly) manipulates you into questioning your own sanity. Others mention bosses who are uncommunicative or “ghost” them when they need feedback or support. Others are met with resistance or even retaliation from managers when they voice their concerns about the direction of a product, project, or other business decisions.

Working with a bad boss can take a serious emotional toll. A study by the American Psychological Association found three in four Americans say that their boss is the most stressful part of their work day.

The cognitive load of handling day-to-day work and navigating a strained relationship can feel overwhelming and deeply personal. As Mary Abbajay explains in Harvard Business Review, people experiencing high-stress situations, such as a conflict with a manager, frequently suffer from emotional exhaustion. She says that this in turn, “strips people of the ability to envision a more positive experience—and hopelessness ensues.”

Three in four Americans say that their boss is the most stressful part of their work day.


During these times, it’s critical to have a resource to grapple with what you’re facing.

Every work situation is unique to the individual, the situation, and the context of the company. One-size-fits all solutions don’t work. We have to provide the space and support to weigh options and find a next step that works for each person. For some, this might be scheduling a one-on-one with a boss to discuss work styles; for others it might mean coming up with a plan that allows them to leave a toxic environment and stay financially covered during their job search. For others, something else entirely.

Next time you’re at your wits end dealing with your bad boss, remember you’re not alone. There is a path forward. Sometimes it just takes a little extra support to see it.

Text 510-674-1414 to get connected to a trained Empower Work peer counselor immediately and anonymously, Mon-Fri, 8:30am-8:00pm PT.




Lauren Brisbo