29 November 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Toxic line managers are the most critical factor to the health and subsequent productivity of employees, according to an academic speaking at a workplace event this week.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper, co-founder at workplace consultancy Robertson-Cooper and author, told delegates at Worktech 2018 in London, that "all the evidence in the occupational health, well-being areas shows that the biggest problem we all have are our bosses, whoever they are".
Cooper said: "On the door of every workplace, there should be a sign saying 'your boss is potentially dangerous to your health' like we have on cigarette packets. The evidence is clear: that is the critical thing."
He said the government's Department for Work and Pensions was currently working on understanding and improving the "emotional intelligence" of line managers.
Cooper said: "Our managers are not as socially and emotionally sensitive as they need to be... who manages you is critical to your well-being."
He added that the workplace has to be designed for employees and they must be involved in its design.
"Psychological environment is much more significant," said Cooper. "You can be in a lousy work environment but if you have a great boss who manages you with a praise-and-reward approach rather than a fault-finding one, who knows you and knows you have issues at home, who gives you flexible working if you need it - it is really important."
Cooper said in an average workplace, only around 20 per cent of managers have the natural skills to manage people, around 60 per cent are trainable and there are around 20 per cent who "should never be allowed near people".