The High Price of a Toxic Boss

Susan Kelley
3 min readNov 19, 2022

Is Your Company Willing to Pay?

Gas Masks: Image Courtesy of Nikoli Alfina on Unsplash

According to the Society of Human Resources Management, toxic workplace cultures have driven 20% of U.S. employees out of their jobs in the past five years — at a turnover cost greater than $223 billion. The same study that came up with that number also revealed that employees most often hold their direct managers, not the executive team or the HR department, responsible for their immediate culture. They also say that when the culture is toxic, it’s because their manager fails to communicate clearly or politely, that he or she lacks the soft skills to lead effectively, and that their manager is an ineffective listener.

A full-on 76% of people said their manager set the culture for their workplace experience.

Woah.

It’s fairly well known that having a toxic boss is bad for your overall health. There are plenty of definitions of “bad boss,” but there are lots of common denominators, too. Enough to find some real similarities.

Significant numbers of survey respondents categorize their boss as:

Self-centered (60%)
Stubborn (45%)
Overly Demanding (42%)

There are more, but if you are a frequent reader of mine, you know I’m getting at a greater point here.

Yep, you guessed it, I am deeply familiar with a similar culture. (Shocker!) While the best option if you have a toxic boss is to just jump ship and land another job, that isn’t always possible. Sometimes, the market is tight and getting a new job might not be easy. Sometimes, there are other forces, and it’s not the right time.

Probably the best thing to do in a squeezing market if you have one of those toxic bosses is to keep diligent records and be prepared to cash in on them. Logging disruptive emails, texts, and other “out of line” behaviors on the part of your supervisor can go a long way in remedying the situation. Being able to back up a claim that “he is unfair” or “she is overly demanding” helps immensely when appealing to any third party, whether that is another superior or human resources.

Keeping those records means you have all the ammunition and the ability to pull the trigger if things get really…

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Susan Kelley

Susan is a runner, a mom of 3 grown children, and an avid traveler. She writes about humans, and wrote a book about false accusations of sexual assault.