The New Workplace
Middle Managers Stretched to Breaking Point
Stuck in the middle
Middle managers have never had it easy. Already in the difficult position of enacting policies they had little input in creating while keeping direct reports happy and productive, many middle managers now face the further challenge of implementing (sometimes unpopular) return-to-office mandates and overseeing remote workforces. Inside AE firms struggling with staffing, middle managers are often stretched the thinnest to ensure projects are completed on time and on budget. As the bridge between firm leadership and the rank-and-file, middle managers can only bear so much weight—and studies have found they are increasingly reaching a breaking point in a post-pandemic workplace.
According to the 2024 Workplace Trends report from employer review website Glassdoor, middle managers are the least satisfied with their jobs. Middle managers reported a sharp drop in work-life balance satisfaction over the course of 2023 while those above and below them on the corporate ladder reported little change. Nearly half (46%) of global middle managers surveyed by the Workforce Institute at UKG in 2023 said they were likely to quit within the year because of stress, while a September 2023 Gallup study found that managers were more likely than non-managers to be burned out, disengaged, and job-hunting.
Paying close attention that middle managers aren’t stretched too thin not only allows them to thrive—but those who work for them as well. A 2021 MetLife study found employees with supportive mangers are more likely to feel productive (+46%), successful (+82%), engaged (+81%), and motivated (+110%) than those lacking managerial support.
In addition to regular, meaningful check-ins with the C-suite, middle managers can benefit from greater training and development on best practices in employee engagement, performance development, and effective communication with team members. According to Gallup, only 48% of managers strongly agree they currently have the skills needed to be exceptional at their jobs. In addition, only 30% of hybrid managers have ever received formal training on how to lead hybrid teams. Offering coaching support and professional development opportunities can boost engagement and prevent burnout among middle managers.
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