A month back, I left my job in an organization I had worked with for six years. People asked me if I was unhappy with my salary, or if there had been a fight, or whether I’d merely gotten bored? My reply to all these questions was negative. I told them I’d left because I was uncomfortable with my immediate supervisor; ‘uncomfortable’ was an understatement. At work I’d been assigned to a team lead, along with 11 other people. We were to work as a team for one year with hard targets and tough deadlines. We were putting in every ounce of effort into the project, yet there was not one word of appreciation or encouragement from the team-lead. But make one mistake, and lo and behold! All hell would be let loose on us. By the end of 7th month, it became impossible to stay on. After I left, I spoke to some of my other teammates and almost all of them told me they also intended to quit if things didn’t get better soon. This situation is not unique to one organization or employee. World over, one of the top reasons an employee leaves their jobs is adverse relationship with their boss. Employees don’t need to be friends with their boss but it cannot be denied that the immediate supervisor is the person they might spend most of their waking hours around. To have a toxic relationship with the person an employee reports to not only causes stress, it also undermines the employee’s confidence and engagement level. Organizations spend a lot of money on employee retention programs. Failure of such programs, in part, can be credited to concentration on the wrong factors. Refer back to my story, contrary to common perception, studies show that a good work environment is often much more important than the current pay level. Merely raising an employee’s salary or assigning a glorifying job title may not be enough. Studies also show that many employees will be willing to put in extra time and effort, in exchange for minimal compensation, if the work environment is congenial. On the other hand, employees who are unhappy or dissatisfied with the work environment may demand unrealistic compensation or simply refuse to take on extra assignments. A bad relationship with a supervisor may lead to stress, anxiety and depression and it doesn’t stop here. Employees working with ‘bad’ bosses are also more likely to suffer from other health issues including life threatening cardiac conditions, states a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study states that employees working with incompetent, secretive or inconsiderate bosses were 60% more likely to suffer cardiac arrests. In today’s competitive work environment, high turnover, poor employee morale, or diminished job performance can wreak havoc for an organization. The answer is simple – a happy workplace is a productive workplace. Ensure that the people promoted to supervisor roles are prepared for dealing positively with subordinates. Get regular feedback from the employees – this will be especially helpful to find problem areas before they get too bad – and give employees the confidence to speak up regarding a difficult supervisor. These small steps will lead to greater gains in terms of increased employee engagement and morale.