How Do Small Business Employees Really Feel About Their Bosses?

May 27, 2016 Pete Jansons

“People don’t leave companies. They leave bosses.” This classic saying is even truer in small businesses, where managers and employees tend to have more interaction with one another on a daily basis. In fact, according to recent research from CareerBuilder, 2 in 5 workers in small businesses (39 percent) say they have left a job because of their boss.

When it comes to their current boss-employee relationship situation, however, the news is mostly positive: The vast majority of small business workers (88 percent) say they have a good working relationship with their boss.

Performance review

Asked to evaluate their bosses’ performance, nearly 2 in 3 small business workers said their manager deserves an “A” (31 percent) or a “B” (33 percent), while 1 in 6 would assign a “D” or “F” (16 percent).

When workers who gave their bosses an “A” or “B” were asked to name their boss’ biggest strengths, they gave the following answers:

  • Attitude toward employees: 63 percent
  • Competence/expertise: 59 percent
  • Fairness/equity in treatment of employees: 55 percent
  • Recognition of employees’ good work: 52 percent
  • Professionalism in work environment:52 percent

When workers who graded their bosses a C or lower were asked where their boss needs the most improvement, they gave the following answers:

  • Communication style: 58 percent
  • Attitude toward employers: 52 percent
  • Fairness/equity in treatment of employees: 50 percent
  • Recognition of employees’ good work: 48 percent
  • Ability to take constructive feedback/listen to employees’ concerns: 45 percent


These findings underscore the weight employees place on good communication, fair treatment and recognition, among other values. How do you think you would score in these areas?

Getting better employee feedback

As a small business employer, it is crucial that you take the time to gather feedback from employees to ensure you’re providing the support they need to succeed in their jobs and move the business forward. Here are just a few tactics you can implement that will foster better communication and a better understanding of your employees’ needs:

  • Create a formal feedback system: If you don’t yet have a formal feedback system, consider doing regular employee surveys, which enable employees to evaluate the company and their manager and leave specific feedback about ways the company can improve.
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings: Make one-on-one meetings between employees and managers a weekly or bi-weekly occurrence. Regular check-ins create stronger boss-employee relationships.
  • Hold “town hall” meetings: Monthly or quarterly town hall meetings where employees can ask questions keeps everyone in on the conversation and fosters a feel of community.
  • Have an open door policy: Establishing an “open door” policy where employees feel free (and secure) coming to you with their concerns, questions or comments will build trust and improve morale.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy

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