It’s tough working for a bad boss. But if your boss is sufficiently bad, a.k.a. toxic, it can actually take a toll on your health — as well as your psyche.
That’s according to a Huffington Post report, although it’s probably no surprise to half of the respondents to a 2015 Gallup survey who said they’d actually left a job to get away from a bad manager or the 41 percent of workers who said they’d been “psychologically harassed” at work.
In fact, a new study from the University of Manchester has found that working for the wrong kind of boss can damage your physical and mental well-being — and maybe even turn you into the monster your boss is.
Don’t think so? Well, the findings, presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference on occupational psychology, indicated that workers with narcissistic and psychopathic traits are not only more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression, but also to bully others and be uncooperative at work.
“Workplace bullying is obviously unpleasant for the target, but also creates a toxic working environment for all involved,” Abigail Philips, a Ph.D. student at Manchester School of Business and the study’s lead author, says in a statement. Philips adds, “In short, bad bosses, those high in psychopathy and narcissism, have unhappy and dissatisfied employees who seek to ‘get their own back’ on the company.”
Another study, this one from Binghamton University, classified bad bosses in two categories: dark or dysfunctional. Dysfunctional bosses are just that — dysfunctional — and aren’t good at their jobs, but dark bosses like to hurt people and take pleasure in terrorizing employees. They lack empathy, engage in bullying and are only worried about their climb to the top — no matter who might get in the way.
And that takes its toll on workers.
The Huffington Post report says employees stuck with bad bosses are also at greater risk for anxiety, chronic stress, high blood pressure, sleep problems, substance abuse issues, heart attacks, overeating and other health problems.
And if a boss micromanages, whether he’s dark or just dysfunctional, he puts employees at greater risk of premature death by depriving them of any sense of control over their work. And since employees don’t perform well when under close scrutiny, that’s only going to make the boss angry.
So what should you do? According to another study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine in 2009, it could mean your life.
A Washington Post article quoted Anna Nyberg, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University, saying, “The longer you have worked at a workplace, the better or worse the situation becomes. So if you are working under a boss who stresses you in a destructive manner, and your possibilities or chances to change the situation are limited, you should try to change jobs as soon as possible.”