Today is National Boss Day, so if you haven’t already done so, you might want to pop by the head honcho’s office for a friendly chat, or collaborate with colleagues on a happy hour surprise.
Or, if you’re like thousands of people who use anonymous-sharing app Whisper, you might instead choose to vent — to everyone and no one in particular — about how much you can’t stand your manager.
And chances are you experienced these types of feelings more profoundly yesterday than today — at least according to recent data collected over the last two and a half years by Whisper, which shows that American employees are most stressed out by their bosses on Thursdays.
The Venice, California-based startup, which has more than 10 million monthly active users in more than 150 countries, found a peak in "whispers," or posts on the app, expressing annoyance, anger or unhappiness with their bosses on that day of the week, surprisingly edging out Mondays.
The app doesn’t collect personal user information like names or emails, nor does it integrate with users' other social media profiles, so people tend to feel more at ease venting without being discovered by anyone they know. Users post messages that are displayed as text superimposed over an image, similar to memes.
“Whisper’s data science team used machine learning to find key words that indicate stress, and then overlaid those stress key words with [terms] like ‘boss,’ ‘manager,’ and ‘supervisor’ and got more than 200,000 results overall,” Aishwarya Iyer, head of communications at Whisper, told TODAY.com.
Iyer declined to state exactly how many boss-related whispers are shared on other days, but confirmed that Monday is the second least boss-friendly day on Whisper.
From Friday to Saturday, there is a 20 percent drop of people mentioning stress and their bosses on Whisper, Iyer said, and from Sunday to Monday, Whisper sees a nearly 50 percent increase in people mentioning these terms.
Many users on Whisper take lighthearted and funny digs at their bosses, evidently enjoying the freedom to speak their minds without apparent consequences, and engage with a community of like-minded users. But these whispers speak to a chronic and worrisome issue of Americans not getting along with their managers.
It’s a long-standing problem, and one that may be getting worse as technology continues to blur the divide between our professional and personal lives. A 2013 Gallup poll showed that 52 percent of employees weren't particularly excited about their jobs, while 18 percent were actively disengaged. Just 30 percent of the 150,000 full- and part-time workers surveyed said they felt engaged and inspired at work.
So why is everyone hating on their bosses so much? While situations vary, often it comes down to insufficient managerial training.
“Many people become managers because they were [at a given company] the longest,” Lauren McGoodwin, founder & CEO of Career Contessa, and a former University recruiter for Hulu, told TODAY.com. “But they were not really trained to manage employees.”
New bosses should be trained on how to effectively manage their employees, and they may want to reconsider some traditional approaches. Rather than being someone who issues orders and demands, they should take on a more collaborative approach.
“I think [bosses] need to take the role of being an adviser and a mentor,” said McGoodwin. “Hire smart people and let them manage themselves with help along the way. No one wants to be micromanaged or have someone sitting on top of them all the time, but they do want to be coached.”
McGoodwin says that if you are interviewing for a job, ask your potential manager what his or her management style is like so you can set up fair expectations of them. If you’re already in a job and unhappy with your boss’ manner, chances are you aren’t alone.
“If one person is having an issue with the boss, then other people probably are, too,” said McGoodwin.
At this point, it’s time to have a conversation with your boss about a practical solution. If that doesn’t work, go to human resources — and be prepared to prove your case.
“Whisper is a place for complaints, but you'll need more proof than [those],” said McGoodwin.
So if you're one of the 200,000 people "whispering" about your boss, perhaps you can help get him or her some proper management training and, eventually, have a genuinely happy National Boss Day.