Nowhere to turn: 60% of workers ‘too intimidated’ to tell their boss about problems

NEW YORK — Do you feel comfortable approaching your boss with a problem? If the answer is yes, you’re in the minority. That’s one of the most striking findings of a recent survey consisting of 2,000 working Americans. In all, over half said they have no one to turn to in the event of an issue — not even their boss or manager.

As if that isn’t shocking enough, another 60% said they are too intimidated by their boss to bring up a problem.

Among surveyed workers without an HR department in their company, 32% said they either have no idea who they are supposed to address problems or concerns with, or just wouldn’t want to cause a fuss in the first place.

The research, commissioned by Bambee, also found that while 80% of respondents admit their boss has good communication skills, 64% also added that there is some definite room for improvement.

Meanwhile, nearly half flat out said their boss is ineffective at communicating with their office.

So, it’s very clear that many American workers are at least somewhat disgruntled with their boss. In fact, 65% believe they would be better at their manager’s job if given such an opportunity.

Even among respondents with access to a human resources department, a startling 65% believe that HR “really” is looking out for the company’s best interests, not the workers. On that note, 23% said they’ve had a problem that they didn’t bring to the attention of their human resources manager.

Among that group, 52% said they didn’t go to HR because they felt uncomfortable doing so, while 41% said they didn’t even know how to file such a report. Other common reasons for avoiding HR included feeling intimidated by a boss (28%), and fear of retribution or being fired (17%).

On the other hand, 70% of respondents with a human resources department did say they’ve brought a problem to the HR manager. Many reported a problem with a co-worker (36%), others an issue regarding a superior (34%), while the vast majority just needed some help or advice.

The most popular reason for visiting HR was for assistance enrolling in benefits (50%) or help understanding time off (50%). Other frequent responses requesting time off (49%), submitting paperwork (43%), and understanding paperwork (43%). It’s worth noting that 21% went to HR to report a form of harassment.

“Human Resources is a critical part of every business because people drive results,” says Allan Jones, CEO of Bambee, in a statement. “People management and operations can be challenging though, and HR is always there to help the business and its team members, no matter what.”

On the bright side, 92% of those who did approach HR said their problem was resolved in a “proper manner.”

“Feeling comfortable, happy, engaged, and supported at your workplace is something we all want to experience,” Jones concludes. “HR is the function of the business that drives this culture forward, creating an environment where workers can thrive.”

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.