HR · 15 January 2018

Toxic workplaces drive one in ten staff to fantasise about killing their boss

Business concept, Boss complain business people and they are thinking that boss is a devil. Vector illustration
A lack of empathy and unreasonable tasks were the most common causes of toxic workplaces

New research has revealed how detrimental a breakdown in interpersonal relationships between employer and workforce can be to a business.

After polling over 2,000 workers across a range of industries, B2B comparison website Expert Market shed light on what employees really think of their boss – with some quite startling findings.

Survey responses showed that, at 52 per cent, a dislike of the boss was greater than any other factor as the reason workers wanted to find a new job.

Over a third of respondents “dreaded” going into work each day, while 60 per cent felt pressured to complete work after-hours.

The research revealed five key behaviours that most contributed to anger and unhappiness among workers.

  1. Blaming mistakes on employees (50 per cent)
  2. Claiming credit for employees’ work (48 per cent)
  3. Ignoring staff members (45 per cent)
  4. Setting impossible tasks (44 per cent)
  5. Failing to recognise hard work (44 per cent)

Almost three quarters of workers believed they could perform their manager’s role better than them, according to the report, while one in four would even avoid their boss in the street.

However, such is their pent-up frustration at their employers’ behaviour, one in ten UK workers have gone so far as to imagine killing their boss.

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Britain’s retail workforce was found the be the country’s most unhappy, with almost a third claiming to hate their job. Curiously, they sat at mid-table in the violence rankings, with construction employees most likely to have the most extreme daydreams.

Commenting on the findings, Hannah Whitfield, Expert Market research lead, outlined some of the risks of toxic workplaces.

“The average cost of hiring a new employee in the UK has been calculated at a whopping £25,181, and rises each year. Employees are said to leave bosses, not companies – so our survey paints a rather bleak picture for certain industries,” she explained.

“If ‘horrible bosses’ don’t up their game, they could end up costing their companies thousands in hiring costs. Investment in employee engagement is a prudent way to combat tension in the workplace.”

Industry Percentage of people who have imagined killing their boss
Construction 22 per cent
Media and communications 15 per cent
Science and tech 14 per cent
Arts and entertainment 13 per cent
Retail 13 per cent
Finance 12 per cent
Transport 12 per cent
Education 11 per cent
Public sector 11 per cent
Energy Nine per cent
Administrative Seven per cent
Health and social workers Seven per cent
Hospitality and Leisure Seven per cent


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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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