Engineers Are Willing to Jump Ship Over a Bad Boss

A new survey by Randstad shows 23% of engineers would leave the job because of poor management.
Donna Fuscaldo

Engineers in the UK are fed up with poor management, signaling they would consider leaving their job as a result. 

That’s according to a new survey by Randstad, the human resources services business that has a presence in 38 countries across the globe. 


The HR services company polled 9,000 workers across the UK and found 23% of design and project engineers or those involved in the engineering industry, would leave their job if the company exhibited poor leadership. That compares to 21% of quantity surveyors, site managers, laborers, and project managers employed in construction who said they would leave as a result. Employees in the property and real estate market had the least tolerance for bad bosses, with 29% of survey respondents indicate they would leave because of that. 

Engineers want strong managers 

At the same time, strong managers appear to back in vogue, at least based on those who took part in Randstad’s poll. It found 28% of survey respondents want to work for a strong management team. That’s up from 24% in 2017 and 14% in 2012. Randstad credited the increased desire to work with a strong boss to the likes of Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. 

“Mark Zuckerburg took Facebook public in 2012 – they’ve made films about him as well, as Steve Jobs who propelled Apple to become the world's most valuable publicly-traded company.  James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, and Arianna Huffington have become internationally renowned leaders,” said Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering in a press release announcing the results of the survey. “Their accomplishments and their extraordinarily high profiles have reignited a belief in strong leadership across the British workforce.  It’s just a shame that so few of these role-models are British.”

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Companies need to cater to engineers 

When it comes to engineers, their dissatisfaction with poor management is in line with finance professionals. That should be worrisome for companies trying to lure top tech talent their way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for architects and engineers is projected to grow 7% from 2016 through 2026, with around 194,300 new jobs added in that time frame. Engineers will be in particular demand in areas including infrastructure, renewable energy, oil, and robotics. 

Goodhead said it's up to employees to try and gauge the type of manager they will be working for during the interview process. He urged job seekers to listen to the questions the hiring manager asks and try to gauge what his or her priorities are. If the questions are focused on the potential employee’s goals and how to reach them, it’s safe to assume the manager cares about professional development. 

“Having the right manager can make your working life easier and a lot more enjoyable. My advice to people is, when you’re going for a job interview, don’t be afraid to ask your new boss directly about their preferred management style,” said Goodhead. “How does it fit with your preferred style?  And, if you have more than one interviewer, watch how the hiring manager interacts with their colleagues.”