The employees have spoken. See the Best Places to Work 2023!


Bad Bosses: Glassdoor Survey Reveals Worst Manager Habits

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated 14 May 2020
|4 min read

The saying ‘you don't leave your company, you leave your manager’ couldn’t be more true. The good news is that you can become a better manager if you are willing to be self-reflective and open to feedback.

With two in every three UK workers experiencing a bad boss, Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job sites, wanted to identify exactly what irritates UK employees the most. 

What Makes a Bad Boss?

On Glassdoor, the average rating for Senior Management stands at 3.0/5.0, whereas the average rating for Overall Company Satisfaction is higher at 3.3/5. This suggests that UK employees are generally happier with their companies than the management they work under. When given a series of options in the survey1, the most common issue with management was “disrespectful” behaviour (43 percent), which could be anything from ignoring employees to taking credit for other people’s work, followed by 34 percent claiming their manager had a “negative attitude”. Over seven percent were offended by “sexist comments” made on a regular basis and just over four percent of the workforce claim to have bosses with bad “body odour”.

General ignorance can still be a serious workplace issue: four percent claim to have experienced “racist comments” and ten percent say “inappropriate humour” caused them offence. When broken down by gender, 40 percent of female employees felt their bosses were “disrespectful”, nearly one in ten (nine percent) said they bore the brunt of “sexist comments” and 23 percent of women didn’t like the fact that their bosses were “lazy”.

When asked the question “how would you typically react to an annoying boss?”, the largest proportion (40 percent) said they would try and “ignore” them, but 18 percent claim they would “gossip about them to other colleagues”. Only 12 percent of UK employees would actually confront the situation, making it clear to their line manager that this behaviour was “annoying and needed to stop”. A small five percent would proactively “try and get them fired”, with 15 percent opting for the more conventional route of going over their head and “talking to their boss”. Upon breaking down this particular segment by gender, 22 percent of female employees would “gossip about them to colleagues”, opposed to 16 percent of males. However, more men (17 percent) would go “over their head” and complain, opposed to just 13 percent of women.

In terms of actions taken by UK employees as a consequence of a leader’s behaviour, 41 percent of the UK workforce said they “hadn’t gone into work because of a terrible boss” (46 percent women opposed to 34 percent men), 21 percent have actually resigned and 20 percent have been forced to take sick leave as a consequence. Just over two percent of employees said they had “gone AWOL” and simply left work without telling anyone. More men (five percent) felt the need to talk about their issues and “call a helpline” versus just four percent of women. Moving within the company to get away from a terrible boss was more common for women, with 15 percent saying they “asked for a transfer” opposed to 13 percent of men feeling this was the best route.

Where Are Britain’s Worst Bosses?

According to the overall regional findings, 63 percent of people in Wales said they had an “annoying boss”, followed by Scotland (62 percent), England (61 percent) and Northern Ireland at 59 percent.

When comparing UK countries, managers in England had the highest level of “inappropriate humour”, with 11 percent of employees saying they were offended by jokes or comments made in the office on a regular basis, followed by the Scottish (nine percent) and the Welsh (nine percent). English bosses made the largest percentage of sexist remarks in this study too, with eight percent of workers being offended in this way, followed by just five percent and two percent in Scotland and Wales respectively. The laziest bosses, however, seem to be in Wales according to employees. Well over a quarter (28 percent) were cited as frustratingly lazy, followed by the Scots (26 percent) and the English (the lowest level at 21 percent). The Scottish are mentioned as having the largest percentage of  “negative bosses” in Britain at 42 percent, however the Welsh aren't too far behind at 38 percent, with only a third (33 percent) of employees in England experiencing the same.

Finally, over a quarter of Scottish workers (27 percent) said they had resigned because of a bad boss, compared to 22 percent in England and just 13 percent in Wales.

10 Most Common Bad Boss Traits for the UK

  1. Disrespectful - 43%
  2. Negative attitude -34%
  3. Lazy - 23%
  4. Always talking about himself/herself - 16%
  5. Inappropriate humour - 10%
  6. Comes in late - 10%
  7. Leaves early - 10%
  8. Swearing 8%
  9. Loud phone calls - 8%
  10. Sexist comments -7%

WATCH MORE! Download vox pop interviews of UK employees talking about their experiences.

The Glassdoor survey of 2,000 people was conducted within Great Britain by OnePoll on behalf of Glassdoor from 29/03/17-04/04/17. For more, please contact

Blog HomeBrandingBad Bosses: Glassdoor Survey Reveals Worst Manager Habits