July 21, 2024

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2023 broke middle managers’ spirit, caught between a disenchanted workforce and demanding execs

2 min read

Whether squashed between two strangers on an airplane, roped into an argument, or sandwiched between your older and younger siblings, being in the middle isn’t always considered prime real estate. There’s no need to ask Malcom if it’s any fun—you can just ask your manager. 

The past year was a turning (and at times tipping) point in the white-collar workforce, which was rife with layoffs and return-to-office mandates. At the center of it all: the middle manager. The burned out second rung of leadership is the least satisfied with their job right now, according to Glassdoor’s 2024 Workplace Trends report.   

The strain that 2023 placed on middle management becomes starkly evident when looking at Glassdoor’s work-life balance ratings. While junior and senior employees reported consistent results, there was a “sharp drop” when it came to middle managers working for larger employers.

Part of it is a swing-back from a golden era a couple years ago, Glassdoor chief economist Aaron Terrazas tells Fortune. “Middle management was targeted in a wide range of layoff announcements in 2023, as companies sought to flatten their org structure—in tech, in finance, in consumer goods, and in healthcare,” he says. Consider Meta’s culling off the layers of managers as part of its “Year of Efficiency” or Intel slashing managers’ pay.

It’s all happening in the shadow of a pandemic-era boom of management roles that Terrazas says was a “result of the tight labor market of 2021 and 2022, as companies sought to reward upwardly mobile employees with promotions in lieu of within-role raises.” 

Indeed, there’s been a rise of “accidental managers” or bosses who were promoted without adequate training—82% of bosses fall into this group, per a U.K. survey of 4,500 workers and managers conducted by The Chartered Management Institute. Workers who think their manager is ineffective reported lower satisfaction in their job as well as…

Chloe Berger

2023-11-26 08:30:00

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