The platforms workers use to complain about their bosses

In an ideal workplace, there are no bad bosses. Or in the next-best scenario, employees who must work with a difficult manager feel empowered to raise their concerns with human resources and request a solution to their problems with their boss.

But more often, workers either suffer in silence or do their best to transfer to another team or a completely different company. In addition to HR, there are many forums for venting about those unpleasant supervisors who lack leadership skills–to other coworkers, to friends and family, to your boss’s boss. But some employees choose to complain publicly, and often online.

There are different online forums and apps where people go to air their frustrations, with varying results. Here is a sampling of those platforms where workers complain.

Female boss working with employees

Glassdoor

The Glassdoor website and app has long been used to post open job listings and employee reviews about employers. It’s a comprehensive resource that features many prominent employers and companies around the country. Glassdoor’s information is fairly up to date and covers a range of jobs.

While the service doesn’t have a separate feature that rates bosses, many reviewers use the platform to specifically call out past or current supervisors and post positive or negative comments. Glassdoor is so widely used that any bad-boss comments are likely to have a broad impact and influence a job searcher’s overall impression of an employer.

Social media

For better or worse, social media platforms are a free and easy way to post opinions about an unlimited range of topics. Since employees spend a better part of each week at work, it’s only natural that they will have strong feelings about their employers.

Current or former employees who are unsuccessful at resolving problems with their bosses at work might feel compelled to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, publicly sharing their experiences in the comments or review section of an organization’s business page. Or, they might post a cautionary note about their boss and company in a related Facebook group.

Social media platforms make it easier to post such complaints anonymously if the person wishes, by going through a second account under a fake or unrecognizable name. When all else fails, the end goal is usually to shame the boss and potentially draw negative attention to the employer.

digitizing workplace

Whistleblowing

If a boss’s behavior is of an illegal nature and the employer does nothing to stop it, some brave employees take their complaints a step further and resort to whistleblowing. This tactic involves publicizing a company or individual’s illicit activities–to the press, to a government agency, to a watchdog organization, or through litigation in court.

The intent of whistleblowing is to shame and potentially sue a troublesome boss or employer by exposing their harmful activities and seeking some form of retribution. The practice doesn’t always lead to negative consequences for the boss, but it almost always exposes the employee, unless they are named John or Jane Doe in a legal case.

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Department of Labor

Some workers choose to approach a government agency like the U.S. Department of Labor to expose inappropriate employer practices. Such complaints aren’t necessarily whistleblowing but are attempts to gain some resolution or enforcement against incorrect labor practices. Complaints are filed at the DOL’s Wage and Hour website. States also have online platforms for filing labor complaints.

Unions

Unions or guilds are still active in many industries, such as media and trucking, and they present another platform where employees may file complaints about their bosses. Each employer where unions are active must follow a set of policies for union employees or positions the union protects. If they fall short, employees might go to the union to complain about their boss.

Unions serve to protect employees, and especially paying members of the organization. They sometimes work closely with HR and corporate executives and might have a contentious relationship. Conversations about inept supervisors may come up between the union and employer.

Publicly exposing bad bosses doesn’t always lead to a good resolution for the employee, but disgruntled workers do it anyway, especially online. Results vary, and often the process of complaining and airing grievances is the end result, without any compensation to the employee or consequence to the boss.

In other cases, publicizing grievances on various platforms leads to a positive outcome for the employee.

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