The State of the Manager-Employee Relationship

11.09.2016
HR & Safety

Many employees like their manager, but bosses still have much work to do, according to new research from staffing firm Accountemps.
Nearly two in three workers (64%) said they are happy with their supervisors, and another 29% are somewhat happy with their bosses. Only 8% of workers give their manager a thumbs-down.
Yet, despite generally positive attitudes about the higher-ups, there were some areas where respondents felt their mangers could improve. Topping the list were communication, cited by 37% of those polled, and recognition named by 31% of respondents.
The survey also found most professionals (67%) don’t aspire to their boss’s job. Among those who want to bypass that rung of the career ladder, the primary reasons included not wanting the added stress and responsibility (45%) and a lack of desire to manage others (27%).
“Managers can sometimes get a bad rap, but in reality most professionals understand that the job is tough and complex and may not be for everyone,” says Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps.
“The challenge for many bosses today isn’t just identifying a successor but convincing that professional to step up to the challenge.”

Half of workers surveyed said their boss understands the demands of their job.

Additional findings from the Accountemps survey include:

  • Workers age 18–34 are most eager to move up to their manager's position, with 56% saying they want their boss's job compared to 34% of respondents 34–55 and 13% 55 and older.
  • Thirty-four percent have left a job because of a strained relationship with a supervisor, and 17% would feel happy if their boss left the company.
  • More than one in 10 (12%) professionals between the ages of 35 and 54 are unhappy with their boss, the largest of any age group. This group also was the most likely to have quit a job over a strained or dysfunctional relationship with a manager.
  • Half of workers surveyed said their boss understands the demands of their job, but 16% noted their supervisor has little understanding of their day-to-day reality.
  • Forty-nine percent of millennials feel their boss recognizes their potential, compared to 67% of workers 55 and older.
  • Twenty-three percent of workers consider their boss a friend, but the majority (61%) cited their relationship as strictly professional.
  • The youngest group of workers had the most extensive wish lists. Most notably, compared to the other age groups, these professionals were more likely to want their managers to provide better communication and listening, support for career progression, recognition for accomplishments and help promoting work-life balance.
[slideshare id=66981993&doc=the-state-of-the-manager-employee-relationship-161010235024] "The employee-manager relationship is a two-way street, and both parties play a role in the dynamic," says Driscoll.
"The best relationships are built on strong communication combined with mutual trust and respect."

Four Tips for Managers

1. Communication. Set clear expectations with staff, and foster an environment where they feel comfortable coming to you with questions. Seek learning opportunities to become a better communicator. Remember, too, this involves being an active listener.
2. Career Planning. Formulate and share career plans for your staff members. Identify specific milestones they need to reach and how you and the company can help them achieve their objectives.
3. Recognition. Show gratitude for a job well done and announce accomplishments to the rest of the team to boost morale. Professionals are happier and more likely to stay with a company if they feel appreciated.
4. Work-life balance. Explore offering flexible schedules and onsite perks such as gyms, nap rooms, and free meals to help employees juggle the demands of work and personal obligations.


The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older.

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