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An awful boss could be as bad for your health as cigarettes

Adapted from BBC Capital website, 2015

Could your terrible boss be as damaging for your health as passive smoking? The long term health effects of a nasty boss could be just as dire, according to a story from LinkedIn published by Quartz.

The longer you stay in a job working for a terrible manager, the bigger the toll on your physical and mental health.

The American Psychological Association reports that 75% of US workers cite their boss as the biggest cause of stress at work but the majority (59%) of workers with a poor manager don’t leave, reported Quartz.  It seems people get very comfortable with their jobs, even if being treated badly which makes it more difficult to leave and find a healthier workplace.

Researchers from Harvard Business School and Stanford University, in the US, compiled data from over 200 studies and found that common work stresses can have the same negative health effects on staff as exposure to substantial amounts of second-hand smoke.

Top of the list of work stresses, losing your job, makes you 50% more likely to experience poor health, reported Quartz. An overly demanding role makes you 35% more likely to have a physician-diagnosed illness.

Surviving until you can escape

While in some circumstances awful managers are just the result of a personality clash with an individual worker, truly bad ones really exist. They can be aggressive, narcissistic or even violent. They often say things like: “This place falls apart without me”,” This is the way we have always done it” or “ You're lucky to have a job”.

In a difficult job market, escaping to a new position isn’t always an option. It’s easy to lose motivation to do a good job. But there are some simple survival strategies that can help get you through (and keep you motivated). Try making a list of daily goals, checking them off as you complete each one. This feeling of accomplishment can help you keep going. Unplugging your phone or email for a weekend will also help re-energise you for work, even for a short time.


dire (adj.) - very serious or extreme

toll (noun) – damage

cite (verb) – name

compile (verb) – collect information from different sources

substantial (adj.) - large

physician (noun) – a doctor (US)

clash (noun, verb) – fight, argument

fall apart (verb) – to break into pieces, stop working