by Alex Palmer | August 31, 2015
A new study reflects the sizable impact that a worker's boss can have on his or her engagement level, particularly when they fail to encourage workers to cultivate a work/life balance. The new "Employee Engagement Study" from HR firm Randstad U.S., finds large portions of workers credit their managers and the decisions they make with their own happiness at work -- and a significant number say they would prefer a better boss rather than a raise.

The study, which drew on the responses of more than 2,200 adult U.S. employees, found that 41 percent of workers believe work/life balance is virtually impossible to achieve. And their bosses are not making it any easier, with 39 percent of respondents saying don't believe that their bosses encourage them to take their designated vacation days, while almost half (45 percent) believe their boss makes it more difficult to disconnect from work when on vacation.

This is a major issue, according to Randstad, considering the firm's findings that employers who urge their workers to use allotted vacation time are "more likely to boost company morale, reduce turnover, and increase productivity," according to the findings.

"Vacations make for more productive and engaged workers," said Randstad North America Chief HR Officer Jim Link, in a statement. "And yet, 42 percent of employees don't believe their employers help them achieve work-life balance and 39 percent don't feel their managers encourage them to utilize vacation time -- therefore, bosses who proactively encourage workers to unplug, unwind and truly leave work behind to enjoy time off will be looked upon as workplace heroes."

The findings in the study seemed to bear out these points. More than one quarter (28 percent) of respondents said that they would rather have a better boss than a $5,000 raise. More than one third of workers (36 percent) said they would give up $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work.

Further findings in the report are that 38 percent of workers believe taking fewer vacations makes them look better in the eyes of their boss, while 36 percent have cancelled vacation plans due to work obligations.

"It's essential employees feel empowered to take a break from their jobs, and managers should take note of these study findings to determine whether their company's culture truly supports and allows the opportunity for this," added Link. "There is no doubt taking time off to unwind is healthy and ultimately better for the organization."