Stuck in the Middle: The Great Resignation and its Impact on Management

Shaun Jex

Employees are leaving jobs at unprecedented rates. In fact, 4.5 million Americans quit in November of 2021.

That’s right, we’re talking about the “Great Resignation.”

However, a key demographic you may not be thinking about in relation to this mass exodus of the workplace is middle management (defined as those managing one to six employees). A global report found that 46% of those surveyed are less satisfied with their jobs than senior executives. In a separate survey, it was found that only 63% of middle managers plan to remain at their jobs in 2022, down from 83% in 2021.

Research by Humu found that managers are twice as likely to quit their jobs as individual contributors. 

The Harvard Business Review listed three issues that are increasing job stress for middle managers —an increased shift away from the traditional 9 to 5, adjusting to changes brought on by digital infrastructure, and the difficulty inherent in creating a sense of shared purpose as teams become more remote. 

Let’s take a look at each, and then see how automation can help.


Hey, where did everybody go?

In the past, managers could be found dutifully patrolling the floor, moving from desk to desk while checking on employees, and ensuring that business was running smoothly. Remote work has made it difficult to physically interact with teams on a regular basis. 

For managers used to working in a traditional work environment, this has created a sense of limbo. The physical reality of the job may have changed, but the performance demands have remained the same. How do leaders support and nurture their team?

“Managers are now tasked with intentionally designing operating norms and workflows for their teams that don’t depend on synchronous, in-person communication…” — Brian Elliott, Harvard Business Review

This difficulty is brought into sharper focus during periods like performance review season. Under current working conditions, 47% of managers state that they have experienced problems giving feedback and providing coaching to their team members. This sense of disengagement affects the morale and performance of the team as a whole.

Maybe that meeting COULD have been an email…

Another key task handled by managers in a traditional office setting is helping their team collaborate with other departments, as well as ensuring communication by holding regular meetings and one-on-one discussions. 

The shift to remote work and the use of automation solutions have fundamentally decreased the need for this type of approach. Automation solutions provide centralized data, integrated between multiple systems like ERP and CRM, meaning that the information is readily accessible to any who needs it, no matter where they are located. While this makes for greater efficiency, it does drastically reduce some of the tasks typically allocated to middle managers filled in the physical office.


So, exactly what are we doing here?

A key part of management has always been taking your individual employees and shaping them into a team, establishing a culture of shared values working towards a common purpose. With the workforce spread out, this has become more challenging.

7 out of 10 hybrid workers feel disconnected from their teammates, while two in three feel left out when they aren’t in the office. 

This sense of disconnection can wreak havoc on employees' ability to see themselves as part of a cohesive unit. Add this to the fact that it has become easier than ever to monitor and measure output and productivity, and you have a strong source of tension. A manager must find ways to continue achieving the high benchmarks set by senior leadership even if their team is in separate locations.

The solution is easier than you think

Despite all of these changes, the middle manager is just as important as they have always been. Their role has not become obsolete but has simply evolved. A key step in this transformation is embracing the possibilities inherent in the automation of many processes.

Digitization helps change the management role from a facilitator to one who leads through innovation. The use of a solution like YayPay for accounts receivable provides a clear-cut example of how this can take place.

YayPay’s advanced Business Intelligence module allows managers to run quick and detailed reports, providing them with full visibility of their team’s productivity and the necessary data in order to help deliver effective feedback. The platform also analyzes trends in customer payment behavior, predicting potential pitfalls that managers can train their team to handle before they become serious issues. 

Because all data is stored on the cloud, it also aids easy collaboration with other departments, such as the sales team, helping to nurture a shared sense of purpose across the entire business. 

Not only does automation allow AR reps to move from a function-based position to a strategic one, but it also allows managers to focus on projects like mentoring employees for advancement, collaborating with leaders in other departments, or even just brainstorming ideas with their team over a cup of coffee.

In addition, by reducing the amount of time spent on manual tasks, employees can be given more meaningful responsibilities, increasing job satisfaction. By taking the work out of the back office, team members can focus more on building customer relationships and working with colleagues on projects that grow the business. 

To learn more about how automation can help middle management increase performance along with employee satisfaction, visit the YayPay blog and sign up to be notified of future posts.