Do Employees Quit Their Jobs Because of Their Bosses ?


For organizations to actualize employee engagement, a key imperative would be to ensure that the employees are happy with their managers and vice versa. As the manager is the first line of communication and contact for the employees especially at the junior levels, it is important for the organizational objective of employee engagement to ensure that the managers and the employees get along well without friction.

Employee engagement can only happen when all the requirements and the drivers of employee engagement are taken care of. This means that we should also include relations between the employees and their managers as more often than not, employees tend to “switch off” when their relations with their managers are not the ideal state of such relations. Of course, this does not mean that the managers should humour employees including the nonperformers. On the other hand, managers must also not play favourites with certain employees as this leads to frustration and dissatisfaction among the other employees.

Therefore, the key to actualizing employee engagement is to ensure a level playing field as well as maintain professional relationships with employees and the managers of the managers. Indeed, most of the grapevine talk over coffee (and in some cases, when employees get together for drinks) is about how their bosses treat them and how it can be better. Therefore, it is imperative that senior leadership be cognizant of this fact and ensures that employees are engaged at all levels.

Do Employees Quit their Bosses?

It is a well known fact in the HRM (Human Resource Management) literature that employees tend to quit companies because of their bosses. Indeed, research done on the basis of exit interviews from employees in many organizations reveal that one of the primary reasons why employees quit is because they cannot get along with their managers. The research also shows that for a majority of these employees, their relations with their immediate managers is the reason for their frustration and lack of engagement with their organization.

Further, research has also shown that employees tend to be demoralized and de-motivated when their immediate bosses treat them shabbily. After all, which employee would like his or her boss to treat him or her like a doormat? This situation is also exacerbated by the fact that employees at the lower levels hardly meet senior leadership on a day to day basis and hence, their managers represent both what is good and what is bad with the organization. This is the reason why many organizations organize getaways and retreats to offsite locations so that the fun element would help the managers and the employees to get along well with each other.

Leadership is the Key to Engaged Employees

As can be seen from the above discussion, it is clear that both managers and employees must make a conscious effort to reach out to each other. The senior leadership has a role to play as they must send the message down the hierarchy that bossism and bossing are not tolerated as is the slacking and non-performance of the employees. Indeed, this is tricky as not all managers would follow these guidelines since some of them hold the view that being in the middle management which is considered as a valuable “Sandwich” layer between the top and the bottom, their actions would be tolerated.

Moreover, once managers tend to be lenient in the spirit of employee engagement, some of the employees might take it as a signal that slack and non-performance would be tolerated. This is the reason why many top tier companies hold meetings between the managers of the managers and the employees who report down the hierarchy so that they get a feel of how the “troops on the ground” think about their managers and by extension, the organization.

Apart from this, many multinationals also have one-one interactions between the employees and two or three levels higher than them so that any concerns and issues between the managers and their direct reports can be brought to their notice. Of course, the key here is that the managers should not let ego come in the way of assessing whether negative feedback is a chance for improvement or whether the employee in question must be punished for speaking out against him or her.


In conclusion, employees can be engaged only when they are in tune with the organizational needs and objectives. This can happen when the role of the manager as one of the drivers of employee engagement is according to the organizational objectives. On the other hand, the employees should not mistake the friendly approach of their managers for leniency. Therefore, it is indeed the case that while employees might quit because of their bosses who in turn might have grouses and grudges against their bosses, this can go all the way to the top and hence, employee engagement can only happen when all the stakeholders agree on what it takes to create an engaged workforce. The bottom line is that employee engagement is a people game where each and everyone have a role to play.

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