Nearly 9 in 10 workers have had toxic manager

Survey shows mental, physical hardships of toxicity at work

Nearly 9 in 10 workers have had toxic manager

Toxic management is far too common in the workplace, according to a new survey.

Overall, 87% of professionals say they have been under the tutelage of a toxic manager, and 30% have had this experience with more than one manager.

According to the report from FlexJobs, managers who are deemed toxic by their workers:

  • are “poor communicators” (43%)
  • act “dismissively” (41%)
  • are “micromanaging” (40%)
  • exhibit passive-aggressive behavior (40%)
  • fail to foster growth (34%)
  • are rude or offensive; used sarcasm and put-downs (33%)
  • had unreasonable expectations (30%)

Image management is the enemy of a healthy company culture and HR leaders need to start stamping it out in their organizations, according to one expert.

How did working for this type of a manager affect workers? Here are some of their responses, according to FlexJobs:

  • increased anxiety (51%)
  • mental fatigue (44%)
  • physical symptoms (33%)
  • increased depression (32%)
  • decline in engagement (30%)
  • questioning of skill set (30%)
  • decline in productivity (24%)
  • decline in performance (24%)
  • misdirected stress on friends/family (21%)
  • imposter syndrome (16%)


A recent study from Accountemps found that 59% of people have been micromanaged by their manager – with that number rising for those in remote work.

Why do workers stay?

Over two in five (43%) of those who had worked for a toxic manager quit or left their job because of the toxic behavior, according to FlexJobs’ survey of over 8,400 professionals conducted Aug. 2 to 17, 2023.\

However, the majority (57%) chose to stay.

Rajeev Vijayan, CEO and co-founder of The Able Mind, cites the following reasons for this occurrence, via LinkedIn:

  • Workers choose financial stability.
  • They lack alternatives.
  • They might lack the necessary skills to succeed in a different or more challenging work environment.
  • They may not receive a positive reference from their employer.
  • They are loyal to the company.
  • They hope for change.
  • The employee may see the toxic boss as a learning opportunity and a chance to develop resilience and coping skills.

Dealing with a toxic manager

Of those that didn’t outright quit, some do the following to deal with their situation, finds FlexJobs:

  • Give feedback directly to their boss, which was ignored (28%)
  • Give feedback to HR, which was ignored (21%)
  • Do “quiet quitting” on their job (12%)
  • Give feedback directly to their boss, which was applied (11%)
  • Give feedback to HR, which was applied (8%)

How can employers address this toxic culture in their workplace? Vijayan shared the following tips:

  • Encourage regular feedback sessions and ensure that employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns without fear of retaliation.
  • Lead with integrity, empathy, and respect.
  • Invest in training programs that enhance emotional intelligence skills among managers.
  • Foster a culture of respect and inclusion.
  • Establish clear channels for conflict resolution within the organization.
  • Conduct regular employee surveys.
  • Hold managers accountable.

There is rampant toxicity in tech workspaces, and executives are to blame, according to a previous report.

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