Bad Bosses Often Source Of Unhappy, Unhealthy Workers, Study Finds

bad bosses lead to unhappy unhealthy workersWhen it comes to the workplace, there are few things as tough as having a bad boss. Whether it's a lack of organization, a gruff attitude or an inability to empathize with staff, working for someone with poor leadership skills can sap enthusiasm and productivity.

But the negative effects don't stop there. A new study finds that bad bosses can affect workers' personal lives, too, since many people don't simply switch off the workday when they walk out the door each night, according to research by the Université Francois Rabelais in Tours, France.

The French researchers found that the psychological climate established by bosses can also affect worker health, raising the risk for heart disease, for example, if the atmosphere isn't a healthy, productive one.

Managers who are controlling and use threats to motivate employees, as well as workplaces that don't value the individual contributions of their workers, likely find that their employees are more frustrated and incapable of working with others, according to the study published recently in the "Journal of Business and Psychology."

Using a questionnaire, researchers polled more than 1,100 employees, asking them for their perceptions of their supervisors' management style and whether they felt that they worked in a supportive environment. The study was carried out across all sizes of French businesses.

Workers who reported that they felt well supported in their efforts to work independently were happier and more satisfied than their counterparts who felt their needs weren't being met.

"Our study shows that both organizational and managerial factors have an influence on satisfying or frustrating the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and how we relate to others," the researchers say of the findings.

Further, they say, "To satisfy employees' needs, supervisors should provide subordinates with options rather than use threats and deadlines, a strategy which could improve their workforce's well-being."

Whether bad bosses will heed such advice, of course, is anybody's guess. But the study findings are such that if their workers are grumpy and ineffectual, managers have no one else to blame but themselves.

Looking for help in managing a bad boss? The American Psychological Association offers a list of tips at its website (via HealthDay News):

Next: How 'Bad Bosses' Drive Employees Mad [Infographic]

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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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