You can probably think of at least one job in your career that really sucked. Hopefully you weren’t mired there very long. Too many people languish in miserable gigs for years because they’re paid too well to stay or their other options appear worse. What’s the most common thing people blame for that awful job? Their boss. Hands down.

We just closed the books on a quick survey of over 6,800 US adults, from April 17-23, asking them what made their worst-ever job, well, their worst-ever job. Here’s what we found:

46% of people blamed a “horrible boss or manager.” Next was 15% of people who blamed the “actual work or role.” 11% of people blamed “co-workers” and another 11% blamed “bad pay/benefits.” 8% blamed “long hours/workload and 7% blamed “poor working conditions.” And yes, 3% of US adults have never held a paying job. (mostly 18-24 year-olds).


The cross-tabs didn’t actually vary all that much. Women were 60% more likely than men to blame insufferable co-workers but it was still only 13% of women overall. Boss-loathing peaked at 51% among GenXers, especially people age 35-44. Not shockingly, lower-income respondents were more likely to blame bad pay. People over age 65 were the most likely to blame poor working conditions. Again, no surprise.

The big take-away here is that if you add the 46% of respondents who pointed at their boss or manager and the 11% who cited their co-workers, 57% of Americans blame other people for their worst-ever job experience. The moral of the story? If you want to create a healthy, positive environment in your company, don’t hire assholes. It’s as simple as that.