HR Strategy

Managers aren’t confident about their employers, but HR pros can help

Middle managers’ confidence in their employers’ outlook has dipped, according to a recent Glassdoor report—but HR can play a strategic role in restoring it.
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· 3 min read

Your managers aren’t really feeling it right now, and by “it,” we mean your company.

A recent Glassdoor report found that middle managers’ confidence in their employers’ six-month outlook dipped nearly 6% compared to last year, “as the economy slows and employees experienced a wave of layoffs at the start of 2023.” By contrast, entry-level employees’ confidence in their companies—which is historically lower than that of middle managers, according to Daniel Zhao, lead economist at Glassdoor—fell just 0.1%.

“There’s been a more drastic decrease over the last year for middle managers…and I think really this comes down to the fact that middle managers have felt the squeeze of layoffs,” Zhao told HR Brew. “Middle managers are important bellwethers for how business is doing. They’re not so high up in the company that they lose their connection to frontline employees.”

HR pros can play a strategic role in combating middle managers’ depleted confidence in their employers.

Check on their well-being. HR pros know better than anyone that it takes a village to hire an applicant. While recruiters and TA pros dedicate 40-hour workweeks to filling vacancies, middle managers are putting in extra work on top of their responsibilities to fill spots on their teams. They could use a check-in—and an assessment of their workload.

“Check on your [managers’] well-being, because [they’re] the folks who are doing a bulk of the interviewing, a bulk of the decision making; they’re often carrying the weight of an understaffed team, their own work, plus the hiring process, and that can quickly lead to burnout,” Liora Alvarez, founder of career coaching and equitable recruiting firm Colorful Futures, told HR Brew.

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If one manager is making all the hiring decisions for a role, make sure you have a backup for them, Alvarez said, so “if they need to take a mental health day or take a break, you can distribute the work amongst multiple leaders, and that can often help to reduce the burnout.”

Helping your hiring managers helps the company overall, she said, because “the worst thing that could happen is you start to staff a team and the folks remaining are halfway out the door because they’ve been overworked throughout the process.”

Recognize their efforts. Middle managers don’t need participation trophies like elementary schoolers, but recognizing their efforts, and acknowledging their feelings of burnout, can help them out, according to the Harvard Business Review.

On average, middle managers spend “two days a week on individual contributor work and a day a week on administrative tasks” on top of their own work, HBR reported.

Recognition can be as simple as letting managers know their contributions are seen throughout the company. HR can also play a strategic role in helping managers redistribute and reassess workloads, HBR added.

“If you’re one of these businesses where employee confidence is falling for middle managers, that signals something about your prospects as a business moving forward,” Zhao said. “It’s important for employers to recognize that employee confidence is falling…and how that impacts the business performance.”

So check in on your managers, make sure their workload is equitable, and make sure they have time off—who wouldn’t benefit from that?

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.