Workers Reveal the Most Unusual Boss Requests in New Survey

Mary Lorenz

If ever you find yourself doubting your competence as a manager and need a pick me up, just say to yourself, “At least I’ve never asked an employee to shave my back,” which isn’t something everyone in the world can say, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder.

More than 3,000 full-time workers participated in the survey, wherein they were asked to name the most unusual request they’ve ever gotten from a boss. Answers included:

  • Boss asked employee NOT to help his ex-wife move
  • Boss asked employee to take her grandmother to the doctor
  • Boss asked employee to feed the birds in his backyard
  • Boss asked employee to get a dead raccoon out of his truck
  • Boss asked employee to breakup with his girlfriend for him
  • Boss asked employee to taste a dog treat
  • Boss asked employee to take his cell phone to get serviced after he dropped it in the toilet
  • Boss asked employee to help organize her high school reunion
  • Boss asked employee to help cut her out of her pants
  • Boss asked employee to shave his back

While these are (hopefully) the most extreme examples of unusual work requests, more than 1 in 5 workers (21 percent) have had a boss ask them to do things unrelated to their jobs.

Bosses behaving badly – or are they?
Despite these findings, the majority of bosses aren’t terrible. In fact, if they had to give them a letter grade, 62 percent of employees would give their bosses an “A” or “B” for performance.

Only 10 percent would give their bosses a “D,” and a mere 6 percent would fail them.

But while most workers think highly of their current bosses, plenty have had less-than-positive experiences with supervisors in the past: According to the survey, 38 percent of workers have left a job because of a boss.

West is best when it comes to bosses
One of the more interesting findings of the survey is that 32 percent of employees in the West give their bosses an “A” – a full 9 percentage points higher than those who said the same in the Northeast.

There seems to be a correlation between the grades bosses get and the amount of hands-on supervision they provide: 31 percent of workers in the West say they interact with their boss only once per week or less. This is 4 percentage points higher than the South (27 percent) and 7 percentage points higher than the Midwest and Northeast (24 percent).

But fewer interactions don’t necessarily mean less support. Employees in the West feel their bosses provide better guidance and feedback – 69 percent in the West compared to 59 percent in the Northeast.

These workers are also less critical of their managers: 33 percent of employees in the Northeast believe their boss should not be in a leadership role; however, only 23 percent of workers in the West feel this way.

When asked to comment on the findings, Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, had this to say:

“We are starting to see a slight shift of favor towards management styles that are seen as a little more hands-off, which employees view as trust from their bosses. Everyone craves respect, and it seems like bosses in certain regions have figured out the perfect balance to keep subordinates happy.”

Do these findings surprise you? What grade would your employees would give you?


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