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Topic: Wellbeing

Preventing Manager Burnout

We expect a lot from our leaders. But when was the last time we asked them “How are you doing?”

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Here’s the unfortunate truth—manager burnout is real.

Leaders of all levels, but particularly entry and mid-level managers, are stressed and overwhelmed. While leader burnout has always been happening, the pandemic has exacerbated it. For the last three years we’ve expected leaders to not only do their normal jobs but also manage ongoing pandemic-related changes and uncertainty and care for employees’ emotional and physical health.

In fact, 61% of leaders report having more responsibilities at work since pre-pandemic times in multiple areas of their jobs:

A grid showcasing how entry level, mid level, and senior level leaders have increased their overall job responsibilities since the beginning of the pandemic.
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Leaders are 43% more likely to say work is interfering with their ability to be happy in other areas of their lives.


Leaders are expected to do a lot. There are administrative tasks (timecard approvals, budgeting, etc.), operational responsibilities (managing projects, attending meetings, etc.), management and leadership duties (performance reviews, hiring, mentoring, developing employees’ skills, caring for employee wellbeing and inclusion, etc.), and strategic work (planning, innovating) to be done. This growth in tasks and responsibilities increases odds of high anxiety in leaders by 21%, which increases odds of leader burnout 6X and hurts odds of engagement by 51%.

Leaders are employees too.

 

Leaders can feel conflicted in their roles as they act as “shock absorbers” between the needs and wants of the organization and the needs and wants of their employees. They’re often torn between being a leader that represents the organization’s interests, being committed to their people, and taking care of their own needs.

We often forget that leaders are employees too. Yet with the increased stress and conflict, leaders aren’t getting enough support and appreciation. Mid and entry-level leaders are 33% and 47% less likely to feel appreciated than senior leaders. This all contributes to manager burnout.

Appreciation reduces leaders’ anxiety by 67% and stress by 52%.

 

What can organizations do to help prevent leader burnout?

 

  1. Recognize and show appreciation to leaders often. We tend to focus on recognizing employees and ensuring they feel appreciated, but since leaders are employees too, be sure to include them in your employee recognition efforts. Encourage employees to recognize up (recognize their leaders), senior leaders to show appreciation to the leaders on their teams, and leaders to recognize one another.
  2. Consult with managers on changes and new initiatives. Don’t just tell managers what changes you’re planning on making in the organization or which new initiatives and programs you’re launching—get them involved in the decision-making. Communicate how changes will affect them, get their feedback, and provide the resources, support, and appreciation to manage the change.
  3. Acknowledge leaders’ increased responsibilities and conflicting roles. Only 14% of companies are making active attempts to ease their leaders’ stress and burdens, according to Gartner. Prevent manager burnout by finding efficiencies in processes, being mindful when introducing new responsibilities, and providing support so they can best help their employees and find balance at work.

Read more about why managers are at risk of burnout and what organizations can do to help build a workplace culture where leaders thrive in our 2023 Global Culture Report.

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