Why 85% of Workers Worldwide Despise/Hate Their Bosses

The most interesting thing I read in the last week is a new Gallup World Poll which found that only 15% of the world’s one billion full-time workers are “engaged” at work – meaning they are enthusiastic about their jobs. The poll found that the main reason workers are not engaged is because they dislike or hate their bosses.

Gallup’s CEO Jim Clifton pointed out in his blog yesterday that while the world’s workplace is going through extraordinary change, the practice of personnel management has been “frozen in time for more than 30 years.” Clifton believes the new job dissatisfaction data may at last explain why worker productivity has been steadily declining globally for decades.

The latest Gallup poll surveyed full-time workers in 160 countries and found that, on average, 85% are not happy with their jobs. It’s not necessarily that they dislike the company or the organization they work for as much as they despise or hate their manager(s).

The problem is that while the workforce in general has changed dramatically, especially due to technology, management training has not kept pace with the times. Old management practices – including lots of forms, gaps in problem solving (or no problem solving), annual reviews, etc. – too often grind the life out of otherwise enthusiastic workers.

The problem is especially acute in Japan where job dissatisfaction, stress, clinical burnout and suicide rates have skyrocketed – essentially destroying their culture. A staggering 94% of Japanese full-time workers are not engaged at work. Only 6% are happy with their jobs.

The numbers for US workers are much better, but still alarming. Some 30% of full-time American workers said they were engaged at work, but this means that roughly 70% are not. As found in other countries, most pointed to dissatisfaction with their boss.

Many employees – especially the best performers – join a company with enthusiasm for the job, but before long quit their manager. It may not be the manager’s fault so much as these bosses have not been prepared or trained to “coach” the new workforce.

As Clifton points out, what the whole world wants is a good job, but we are failing to deliver it – particularly for Millennials. This means human development is failing, too. Most Millennials are coming to work with great enthusiasm but need encouraging managerial support to stay that way.

Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1980 and the late 1990s. As many of us know, most Millennials are very different from Baby Boomers, those of us born in the mid-40s to early 60s. Boomers’ top goals in life were to have a family (2-3 kids) and own a home; to many, having a good job was merely a means to provide for the family.

Many Millennials, on the other hand, place “my job” ahead of “my family” as their top goal. Since their life is more focused on work, they need to draw more from their work environment to be happy. They tend to make their best friends at work – often including their close friends who may be customers. They want meaningful work and to stay with an organization that helps them grow and develop. Sadly, that’s not happening nearly enough.

As mentioned above, Clifton believes this low level of worker engagement globally is largely responsible for the falloff in global productivity in recent decades. The solution, he says, is that “organizations should change from having command-and-control managers to high-performance coaches.”

He argues that most full-time workers, especially Millennials, demand personal development over satisfaction with the particular job they are doing. They prefer ongoing strength-based conversations with their managers over paperwork, meetings and annual reviews.

Gallup estimates there are apprx. 1.2 billion full-time jobs in the world, and at 15% on average, that means there are only apprx. 180 million workers who are engaged (enthusiastic) in their jobs.

Clifton believes that number could double or triple or more – if employers embrace training their managers to be “performance coaches” rather than old-style bosses. He has a point!


The Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds rate target range by 0.25% to 1.00-1.25% yesterday, to the surprise of no one. The policy statement indicated there will be more rate hikes going forward if the economy holds up – no surprise there either. The Fed repeated its language about starting to reduce its massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet later this year. I’ll have more to say about that on Tuesday.

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