The secret to job satisfaction? Work for a competent boss.

Nearly all of us have a boss and we are all well aware how they can make us feel some times, yet up until now there has been almost no published research into how they affect the quality of our lives. This research, conducted by academics from Warwick University, the University of Wisconsin and Cass Business School, documents formal evidence finding that the technical competence of a boss is the single strongest predictor of an employee's well-being. It came well ahead of other factors, such as the employee's earnings, education or industry they worked in.

Looking at data drawn from both the UK and the US, a boss' competence was measured by three indicators:

  • their level of technical competence;
  • had they worked their way up the organisation; and
  • were they capable of doing their job of their staff.

The research demonstrates that even if a worker stays in the same job and workplace a newly installed and competent supervisor will greatly improve that worker's well-being. These findings could be useful when analysing the behaviour of labour markets, as they provide further evidence that happier workers are more productive.

A draft version of the research paper is available for download at the link below.

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