Bad Bosses: The Leading Cause of Workplace Depression

It isn’t the pressure you’re under, the amount of work you have yet to finish, or even your idiot co-worker who’s always quipping “that’s what she said!” that’s making you depressed. Granted those things don’t help, especially your co-worker with dumb jokes (ahem, Joel from accounting!). The thing that’s really ruining your workplace groove is your terrible, terrible boss.

According to a massive new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health, bad bosses and a bad workplace environment are the leading causes of workplace-related depression. Massive, in this case, means that the study involved some 4,500 Danish public employees, all of whom filled out questionnaires about the quality of their workplace. Those who reported depression had additional interviews with the researchers, and were tested for levels of cortisol, a hormone thought to be related to stress and depression.

According to the researchers, a heavy workloads aren’t to blame for depression—though depression can certainly exacerbate a heavy workload. Rather, the employees most likely to have low levels of satisfaction reported a lack of “sense of justice” at the workplace, where “sense of justice” means having a boss who listens, treats employees equally, and is transparent in management style.

So, what’s a long-suffering employee to do? Quit—seriously. It’s unlikely that a sadistic boss will ever change, and complaining will only cause them to focus their sadism on you.

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