State of the Workforce: The Great Management Walk-Out is Next

We’ve experienced the “Great Resignation” of our workers and based on a plethora of recent conversations I’ve had with executives, directors, and managers across various industries, I’m now predicting, “The Great Management Walk-Out.”

Are you aware of how much managers are currently juggling and just how close they are to their breaking points?


So, what happened?

  1. Staffing is Taking Over Their Job – First, hiring and onboarding has forever been a small portion of managers’ responsibilities – say less than 10%. But due to excessive turnover today, managers tell me nearly 40% of their time is now spent posting jobs, screening, interviewing, making offers, and onboarding. Do executives think it is sustainable to ask managers to balance their previous responsibilities plus this added workload focused on new hires? It’s not.
  • Inflation Frustration – While many companies have made the intentional effort to increase pay raises well beyond the previous annual standard of 2-3%, the reality is most haven’t kept up the with the actual cost of living increases due to inflation. And staff are definitely noticing the gap! Supervisors who are meant to share “good news, you get a raise!” are hearing responses like, “you realize I’m actually taking home less money now than last year, right?” Those managers are then forced to buffer the issue and beg people to stay.
  • They’re Always the Backup – Let’s not forget managers are also spending time covering for vacant roles and short-staffed shifts, or where people are simply taking PTO they have rightfully earned. Unfortunately, many companies left no cushion for un-productive hours as they’ve continued to push the unsustainable mantra of “do more with less” year after year.
  • Extra Initiatives That Don’t Solve the Problem – Finally, I’m still seeing corporate metrics and high-pressure expectations pushed onto managers that are both unattainable in the current environment and inappropriate as managers beg for staffing stability to be a higher priority for the entire organization. The management’s response to new non-workforce-related initiatives right now is, “are you kidding me?”

While many of our dedicated, long-term leaders have been loyal or perhaps felt an obligation to stay with the company in the past, we’re starting to see these dependable managers collapse under the weight that has been put on them for so long. Any deep-rooted sense of loyalty or obligation has dried up at this point.

What I’m hearing from department heads & middle managers is that they no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel as their execs say they have “tried everything” or as owners aren’t willing to make big enough changes to resolve the staffing issues that won’t resolve themselves.

They tell me their health is suffering due to the stress and exhaustion of not having gotten good sleep for years. And their family structures and support systems are crumbling since they weren’t intending to enable extra-long work hours indefinitely. These great leaders don’t want to quit; but as some point, their lives and wellbeing have to take priority. That time is any moment.

Staying Power

Why Your Employees Leave and How To Keep Them Longer

So, where do we go from here?

If your executive team is not currently evaluating the sustainability of managers’ workloads, it’s time. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Have you forced anyone to “absorb” responsibilities of others who have left?
  • How much time are managers spending on recruiting and onboarding tasks?
  • What have you taken off busy managers’ plates to open space for new responsibilities this year?
  • Are there tasks managers are doing that no longer bring value to the company and could be pruned from their job descriptions?
  • Have you left managers time to be managers? Are they able to do one-on-ones with team members and fill in when staff are on PTO?
  • Has the organization added more recruiting- and retention-specific staff and investments to address the real workforce issues at hand?
  • Do you need assistant managers and directors (like the good ol’ days) to help top leaders accomplish both operational requirements and employee engagement for their teams?

If your company wants to avoid The Great Management Walk-Out in the coming months, corporate-wide initiatives that do not directly support and/or offload work for your managers must wait! Regaining staffing stability moving forward now requires reworking job expectations and getting workloads for leaders back in check.

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