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Brits searching for the perfect boss

21 Dec 2010

Millions of Brits are on the hunt for the ideal boss and are prepared to change jobs and even switch careers in their drive to find perfection. 

New research from first direct reveals almost seven million (28 per cent)1 workers have moved jobs in an attempt to find a better boss and improved working environment. 

So elusive is the perfect boss that more than one in 10 (12 per cent) workers have taken up a new career entirely in their search, while one in 20 (five per cent) have decided to try their own hand at being boss and set up a business by themselves. 

Leading by example

For Britain's bosses, there are some clear lessons on what would make their workplace more successful. The research reveals the five most valuable qualities for a manager are:

  • Approachability (83 per cent)
  • Being a good communicator (82 per cent)
  • Being supportive (81 per cent)
  • Being a good leader (80 per cent)
  • Someone who respects their staff as individuals (76 per cent) 

Bosses Behaving Badly

The first direct report also finds bad behaviour in the workplace is putting a strain on British business' bottom line. When working under a bad boss, employees report a loss of motivation (47 per cent) and productivity (28 per cent), with one in five (18 per cent) taking "sickies" as an avoidance tactic (18 per cent). 

Fifteen per cent of workers have had to cover for their managers' incompetence, leading one in six (17 per cent) to feel their company has suffered as a result. 

Bland bosses

The key failing of British bosses is uninspiring leadership. Under a third (31 per cent) of employees describe their boss as a good leader and almost one in four (28 per cent) as a good communicator, while almost nine out of 10 (88 per cent) say their boss is not inspiring. 

first direct CEO, Matt Colebrook, said: "When it comes to fostering British creativity at work, it seems many managers are holding back the true potential of their staff. More than three quarters of workers (77 per cent) think their boss does not encourage new ideas or allow self-expression. 

"The results make for bleak reading and given the current economic climate, so much untapped potential is a serious issue. But valuing workers as individuals and embracing their creativity can make all the difference - which is why we've launched a new search to find and reward the best bosses in Britain." 

first direct is launching the 'Best Boss Awards' with the Guardian which will run from January 2010 - March 2011.



For more information or to request a copy of the first direct 'Colourful Lives' Report Chapter Four, please contact: Melanie Corbett on 020 3451 9438/ or Emily Phillips on 020 3451 9412/ 

Notes to Editors:

Findings reported here are taken from the fourth of five chapters of the first direct Colourful Lives Report by the Future Foundation commissioned by first direct to mark its 21st birthday. 

Each chapter will aim to capture the essence of quirky individualism in the UK. This fourth chapter - The Way of the Workplace - focuses on the workplace, asking how the nation feels about its bosses, colleagues and working patterns and how these affect happiness, creativity and productivity. 

This report draws on bespoke research conducted online, in September 2010, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Britons aged 16 plus. Additional research was conducted via ICM in December 2010 among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Britons aged 16+.


Additional Sources

  • 1. The UK workforce (all employees, full time and part time, and not including any self-employed - ONS data) is24,923,000, 28 per cent of whom (ICM) have left their job because of a bad boss. Therefore24,923,000x 0.28 =6,978,440                                  
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