Middle managers drive drop in employee confidence to record low

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Confidence among middle managers dropped to its worst-ever reading in February, pushing a broader index of United States employee sentiment down to a record low.

“Middle managers are under pressure to do more with less,” Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao said in a report March 4. The group’s confidence is now similar to that of entry-level workers, which fell last month to the lowest in seven years, the job-review site’s Employee Confidence Index showed.

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Across all ranks, employee confidence fell to 45.1 per cent, the lowest in data back to 2016.

One anonymous mid-level employee review said that when they left the firm last year, several months were needed “to recover from the intensity of the role.”

Middle managers have to both direct more junior employees and answer to the senior ranks, making the position uniquely prone to burnout in the corporate ladder. Tech firms like Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc. zoned in on those positions for cuts last year, while United Parcel Service Inc. kicked off 2024 with plans to cut 12,000 management jobs to help offset higher labour costs from a new union contract.

In announcing the job cuts, the companies cited similar themes around productivity and efficiency. At some big tech firms, that can be gauged by how many people work under you, providing an incentive to overhire.

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Companies that did just that are increasingly reducing staff and driving confidence down with it. Mentions of layoffs in Glassdoor reviews from tech employees were up more than four-fold in February compared to two years ago, and more than triple among media workers, the report showed.

Due to some high-profile layoffs in these fields, workers who survived the cuts “are becoming increasingly pessimistic about their employers’ prospects,” Zhao said.


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