Many workers feel the boss is qualified to lead by Christine Wingate

A struggling economy isn’t translating into struggling relationships between U.S. workers and their bosses. In fact, the environment may actually be good for the manager/subordinate relationship.

A recent market research study queried online panelists to get a feel for workers’ attitudes about their superiors and noted some interesting findings reflecting the state of business environments across the country.

In regards to what workers like most about their jobs, bosses don’t make the top of the list. Rather, the “work itself” takes the top honors with 35% of respondents saying that aspect is the favorite element about their current employment. The pay (14%), flexibility of schedule (12%) and co-workers (11%) round out the top of the list in terms of what workers most appreciate about their current career positions.

When specifically queried about satisfaction with their boss, 62% of the same panel reveals they are ‘extremely’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the relationship they have with their existing boss or immediate supervisor.

Outside of personality and temperament, perceptions many subordinates have about their bosses’ specific job-related abilities seems to be positive, as well. An overwhelming majority (86%) of employees questioned in the private study feel their bosses are qualified to hold his/her position as their group or division leader. Considering that many employees in the current economy harbor some concerns about their job stability, data analysts from the firm completing the survey were pressed to explain why the figures were so high.

“One reason bosses are faring so well in these employee evaluations may derive from the fact that many firms have gone through downsizing measures during the last two years,” says Pradnya Naidu, a senior researcher at the Persuadable Research Corporation . “While many competent managers were let go during our recent economic downturn, bosses who were not respected by their followers may have been easier to spot by higher ranking company directors. Bad bosses frequently elicit less loyalty from their workers during challenging times – translating into poor group performance and more concerning attention to a particular boss by organization leaders.”

Internet juggernaut Google recently completed their own employee study called ‘Project Oxygen,’ allowing company leaders to ascertain top traits current team members associated with effective managers. Research noted workers did not require bosses be technically savvy and instead put notable value on ‘being a good coach.’ This finding was corroborated by the Persuadable study, as well, adding further verification that bosses who are more collaborative with team members are frequently viewed as more effective. Other specific elements further enhancing satisfied relationships with team members/subordinates include: asking for your team members’ opinions, listening to their suggestions, complimenting them, knowing what’s going on at the office and understanding group dynamics.

Laszlo Bock is Google’s vice president for ‘people operations,’ a title reflecting the company’s creative term for what is traditionally called ‘human resources.’ His team has been sharing research results hinting what many employees value most are even-keeled managers who make time for one-on-one meetings, help associates work through problems and take an interest in employee lives.

“Various recent workplace research shows some employees believe bosses haven’t been forthright about job security and don’t feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues,” continues Naidu. “For managers striving to be especially effective in their roles, creating an environment fostering open discussions is often a key component to acquiring and keeping star talent within their ranks.”

Another interesting data element revealed in the study concerns office romances. Nine percent of the Persuadable Research respondents said they would consider having an office affair with their boss if assured doing so would enhance their careers. Curiously, that exact same figure was referenced in an October, 2010 Adecco Staffing survey where workers answered they “completely agreed” they would consider a fling to get ahead at their job.

Christine WingateChristine Wingate is a writer, promotions professional and web consultant specializing in the small business sector. Since 1995, Christine has worked for advertising agencies and private corporations, helping groups get the most out of their marketing budgets, interactive campaigns and branding efforts. Experience has been a good teacher for her — and she currently thrives on using her eclectic marketing communications skills to help clients navigate various challenges. Visit for more information about Christine and her consulting partners at Nelson Interactive.