As anyone who has had a good mentor or a bad boss at work knows all too well, when someone believes in you, it can make all the difference. A new survey by the American Psychological Association of 1,076 U.S. workers found that a manager’s support can make or break an employee’s experience at a job. The workers were asked to rate their supervisors’ support across a number of dimensions, on a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
Survey: Unsupportive bosses create unsatisfied employees with one foot out the door
Whether or not your boss was supportive or disengaged determined employees’ paths and organizational outcomes. Employees with supportive bosses were twice as likely to report feeling valued by their employer and feeling satisfied with their jobs and were twice as likely to recommend the job to others.
Meanwhile, when your boss is terrible and could care less about your career, you start to care less about your job, too. You may even start looking a recruiter emails and job board listings with more interest. More than half of the employees lacking supervisor support said they intended to leave their jobs within the next year.
The lack of support also breeds mistrust. Fifty-six percent of workers who said they had unsupportive bosses also said that they do not trust their employer.
How to measure a boss’s support
Whether or not your boss gave you career development opportunities was the biggest predictor into whether or not you thought they were a supportive boss or not. Employees getting the opportunities to develop technical, management, and leadership skills for their futures accounted for 60% in variance between employees with supportive bosses and disengaged ones. When bosses set an expectation that employees would need to focus on their training and development, employees’ sense of support grew, too.
These are not opportunities enough of us are getting. Men were more likely to have supportive bosses than women. While over 85% of men and women reported that their boss was giving them the necessary training to do their job now, fewer women than men reported that their bosses were giving them the opportunities to develop the leadership and technical skills they’ll need in the future. This finding may suggest that bosses are more likely to see men as leaders than women.
An equally important factor to employees feeling supported is whether or not employers had time to follow through on these promises of support. Employees were asked if their employer set aside time during work hours for job training and career development. Only 52% of employees agreed that they had enough time in their work days to follow through on these opportunities.
This survey shows how a supervisor’s support can have a huge influence on your job and career. A good one can bring out the best in you and set you on the path to greatness. A bad one can be poison, tainting your daily satisfaction with your work and what you see as your potential. When there’s a lack of managerial support, employees notice and are less likely to stick around. Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.