1 in 4 Belgians have nightmares about their boss


No less than 23% of Belgians regularly suffer from nightmares about their boss, while an alarming 16% have already sought help for their mental health after a bad relationship with their manager.

The study was conducted by the job site, StepStone across more than 5,700 Belgians.  With an objective to support and raise awareness for the well-being of employees, the research also shows some differences in bonding between Dutch- & French-speaking employees regarding their manager.


The average manager gets a 5.9 out of 10 from employees, but gives him/herself a 7.5

When asked to score a boss’ competence on a scale of one to ten, there was a clear difference between a Belgian manager’s self-assessment and what an employee would rate them. On average, an employee gives his/her manager a score of 5.9 out of 10.

However, it appears that on average, managers have a different view of themselves regarding their abilities. The average score according to themselves was a 7.5 out of 10. When rated purely on their character, a Belgian manager receives on average a score of 6,5 out of 10.


One in five would avoid his/her manager outside of work

When asked about social contact with their manager, 20% of all respondents insist on the importance of a strict separation between work and private life. These respondents would also actively try to avoid their superior outside of the workplace – regardless of their native language. However, there are also clear differences between the responses of Dutch-speaking and French-speaking employees with regards to their managers.

In general, it is noticeable that French-speaking employees have a better relationship with their manager than their Dutch-speaking colleagues. The latter group indicated that in general, they have worse relationships with their direct managers (29% vs. 21% among French speakers).

StepStone also asked Belgian employees about the specific moments and the frequency of social contact. Although the most important moments, i.e. the (lunch) breaks, were the same, there is a difference in frequency.

Only 24% of the Dutch-speaking employees have daily social contact with their manager, while for French-speaking colleagues, this is no less than 44%.

Among the Dutch-speaking employees, 33% even indicated that they have neither no social contact nor no monthly social contact. The main reason was a preference for a stricter separation between work and private life (41.7%).

Among the French-speaking respondents, the answers were 18% and 31% respectively, a more positive result in terms of the relationship between managers and employees. While there were no clear indicators in the data as to why the differences occur, it could be assumed that a difference in work culture can be a reason.


The 3 behaviors that bother employees the most

We also asked employees what bothers them the most and what they find most unacceptable regarding their manager. The three most common cases of annoyance are:




StepStone completed this survey in October 2019. Our analysists have screened the data to ensure both the representation and the validity of respondents’ answers are accurate.

In total, there were 5,729 filled in surveys submitted in Dutch, French and English. Among them were 4422 employees and 1307 managers.

For specific inquiries, please contact:
Killian Cramers
+32 2 209 97 44 or +32 472 55 00 97