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Squeezed middle managers

  31st January 2012      
 Company News

Recent research has shown that middle managers are under the most pressure and feeling the squeeze of the economic downturn.

The CIPD quarterly Employee Outlook survey showed that UK middle managers are feeling the most pressure, have the worst work-life balance and least sense of job security. 49% of middle managers reported that they are under excessive pressure at once or twice a week or every day, compared to the average of 37% across all survey respondents.

It was found that middle managers are particularly unsatisfied and unhappy with their work-life balance, with only 44% agreeing to be satisfied compared to 70% among employees with no managerial responsibilities. It is also those in the middle of organisations who are most worried about job security — 29% believe that it is likely they will lose their job because of the economic downturn. This is in comparison to 21% of employees with no managerial responsibility and just 15% of senior managers.

It is unsurprising then that middle managers are also the employees who say they are most likely to search for a new job with a different employer.

CIPD Head of Public Policy Ben Willmott said: “Middle managers are often caught in the middle between delivering strategic objectives and managing under-pressure line managers. They can also be first in line when organisations look to reduce head count. While middle management will undoubtedly bear its share of job losses in organisations needing to reduce head count, it is also important to remember the crucial role these managers play in managing change, translating the objectives of senior managers into actions, and motivating others.

“The CIPD’s Shaping the Future research project into sustainable organisation performance found that suitably skilled middle managers can play a key role in managing change and organisation transformation. As translators, they can facilitate two-way communications between leaders and the front line and, as transformers, they can bring change to life. Much of this can be lost if change simple involves “delayering” this middle-management tier, rather than refocusing, retraining and drawing on their skills and experiences.

“It is also important that employers don’t ignore the health and wellbeing of their middle managers. With a fifth of middle managers saying they are under excessive pressure every day, they are particularly at risk of suffering from work-related stress and burnout.”

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