Maybe employees should leave jobs because of bad co-workers, not bad bosses

Much has been written about employees leaving jobs because of bad bosses and not bad companies.  In fact, when we talk with companies about how to build trust within their companies, we remind them that employees do leave bad bosses even when they can’t verbalize their feelings about them to the company in an exit interview.  That daily interaction between an unsupportive or uncommunicative boss can be exhausting and make us suspicious about their motives and our standing with them.

Yet in today’s WSJ, another study finds that our colleagues might actually be killing us–shouldn’t we consider leaving our jobs because of them?!  This study found that “less-kind colleagues were associated with a higher risk of dying.”  So, those colleagues (and not just bosses) who are mean-spirited, Über-competitive, and who are just plain nasty will lead us to an untimely death than if we have pleasant, kind, and sociable colleagues.

This reminds us of another study we recently read about where mean men earn more than nice men.  The study did not find the same degree of benefit  for women–mean women do make more than nice women, but “only” about five percent more.

Integrating these various studies and findings, it means that although mean people may be succeeding individually, collectively and over the long haul, they are hurting themselves because they are driving out nice employees.  Now that human capital and talent are more mobile than ever, that long-term effect will no longer be long-term.  In other words, nice people, especially nice, smart people will say goodbye to their mean bosses and colleagues, and those firms will become less competitive.  Thus, the mean people will lose out financially as well.

Let us know what you think.

-karen and aneil