UK middle managers are feeling the squeeze as a result of the economic downturn, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) quarterly Employee Outlook survey of 2,000 employees.

Almost half (49%) of middle managers say they are under excessive pressure either everyday or once or twice a week, compared to a survey average of 37%. They are particularly unhappy with their work-life balance; just 44% agree they are satisfied with their work-life balance, compared to 70% among employees with no managerial responsibilities.
In addition, middle managers worry most about their job security. One in three (29%) think it is likely they could lose their job as a result of the economic downturn, compared to 21% of employees with no managerial responsibility and 15% of senior managers.

Perhaps not surprisingly given these findings, middle managers are the category of employees that are most likely to be looking for a new job with a different employer, with 29% looking to move organisations compared to a survey average of 21%.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD, 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 simply 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 everyday they are particularly at risk of suffering from work-related stress and burnout.”