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Kronos Boss’s Day Survey Finds Employees Believe Managers Set Good Example; Don’t Want to Be Told to Think Outside the Box

CHELMSFORD, Mass., Oct. 14, 2013-A new survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute™ at Kronos Incorporated and conducted online by Harris Interactive finds that an overwhelming majority of U.S. workers believe their managers set a good example for behavior in the workplace. The 2013 Kronos Boss's Day Survey also reveals the attributes of the best managers; employees preferred form of recognition; and the management-speak phrases that employees find the most annoying.

News Facts

  • 69 percent of employees who have managers believe their managers set a good example in the way they behave, agreeing they are ethical, honest, collaborative,creative, empowering, innovative, dedicated, and trustworthy. A whopping 92 percent of those who believe this to be true, also believe their managers adhere to those values on a regular basis.
  • Given the choice between a manager who is a high achiever but demanding, or a manager who is nice but ineffective, 75 percent of employees with managers would choose the high achiever.
  • When asked whether they'd prefer a manager who invests in their professional development or one who invests in programs to make the work environment more fun, 61 percent chose professional development while only 39 percent chose fun.
  • When asked to rank the three most important attributes of a good manager, honesty was the front runner (78 percent), followed by goal-oriented (44 percent), and compassionate (40 percent).
  • When it comes to being recognized, most employees with managers would rather receive praise privately. 43 percent of employees with managers prefer direct individual praise from their manager; while 32 percent favor praise to their manager's manager, and 25 percent prefer praise in front of their peers.
  • 76 percent of employees with managers find business jargon terribly annoying. Phrases that they dislike include: "Think outside the box" (25 percent); "I don't care how, just get it done" (24 percent); and "It's on my radar" (19 percent).
  • The 2013 Kronos Boss's Day survey reveals that American Millennials[1] are not all that different from previous generations. Their preference for individual recognition; investment in professional development over fun work programs; and high-achieving but demanding manager over nice but ineffective manager - are the same as previous generations within the workforce.
  • The Harris survey also gathered data from workers in India and Australia, both of which celebrate Boss's Day alongside the U.S. While most of the findings were consistent across the three countries,  some differences surfaced:
    • Americans (43 percent) and Australians (45 percent) with managers most appreciate recognition in individual praise. However, Indian workers with managers prefer to be recognized in a peer environment (39 percent).
    • Employees with mangers in all three countries agree that good managers are honest (78, 76, and 66 percent in the U.S., Australia, and India) and goal-oriented (44, 37, and 63 percent in U.S., Australia, and India). India and Australia also selected thoughtful (41 and 37 percent) as their 3rd in the top three important attributes for a manager to have. Australia and U.S. also selected direct (37 and 39 percent) as additional characteristics of a good manager. The U.S. was the only country to indicate that compassion (40 percent) fell within their top-three choices as important attributes for good management.
    • Indian employees with managers are more irritated by corporate jargon (95 percent) than their Australian (83 percent) and American (76 percent) counterparts.
    • Indian employees with managers (46 percent) admitted that they have complimented their manager just to get on his/her good side even when they didn't mean it. Only 18 percent of American respondents and 23 percent of Australian respondents made the same admission.
    • Boss's Day - which is a day for employees to thank their bosses for being kind and fair throughout the year - is celebrated on Oct. 16.

Supporting Quotes

  • Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, Kronos Incorporated
    "In recent years, we've been hearing that Millennials will completely change the workplace. Significant shifts are clearly underway, but this research reveals workers who are earlier in their career don't differ significantly from other generations in how they want to be managed and motivated by their boss. In addition to comparison across generations, it's interesting to see how different countries and cultures define good management."
  • Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP, the HR Bartender, and President of ITM Group Inc.
    "One of the interesting aspects of this survey is that U.S. employees would choose a high-performing and demanding boss over a nice but ineffective one. In the same vein, they'd prefer a manager who invests in their professional development over one who invests in making a fun working environment. Employees are saying they don't need their boss to be their best friend, rather it's important to them that they are able to work effectively, be challenged, and grow."
  • David Creelman, chief executive officer, Creelman Research
    "The results of this survey shatter the stereotype of the clownish boss made popular by countless sitcoms and movies. An overwhelming majority of employees are actually saying quite the opposite:  they believe their managers set a good example with their behavior and adhere to values that are important in a healthy corporate culture."

Supporting Resources

Survey Methodology

These surveys were conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos Incorporated from Sept. 24-26, 2013 among 2,041 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 809 are employed full-time/part-time who have managers, and in Australia and India among 2,100 adults age 18-64, among whom 1,411 are employed full-time/part-time who have managers. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

About The Workforce Institute

The Workforce Institute was founded by Kronos Incorporated in 2006 as a think tank to provide research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute's research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For additional information, visit

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud. Tens of thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries - including more than half of the Fortune 1000® - use Kronos to control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity.  Learn more about Kronos industry-specific time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics applications at Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works™.


© 2013 Kronos Incorporated.Kronos and the Kronos logo are registered trademarks and Workforce Innovation That Works is a trademark of Kronos Incorporated or a related company. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

[1] For the purposes of this study, Millennials are defined as adults age 18-34.

 Maura Landry   
  Kronos Incorporated 
  +1 978.947.4777