Poor managers bad for workers’ mental health and performance

A new report by the CIPD shows a direct link between poor managers and negative mental health, job satisfaction and performance amongst workers. In response, the CIPD is highlighting the need for better people manager selection and development to ensure managers have the skills needed to effectively lead and support their teams.

Its report, The importance of people management, draws on data from the CIPD’s annual Good Work Index, which asked employees to rate their managers on a range of people management behaviours*.

The results were then used to create a line manager quality index, to analyse whether employees’ perception of line management behaviour was linked to their job satisfaction, wellbeing and performance.

The results showed that workers whose managers were rated in the bottom quartile of the manager quality index were more likely to report:

  • Negative impacts on their mental health – Half (50%) of workers whose managers are rated in the bottom quartile on the manager quality index say that their work has a negative impact on their mental health, compared to just 14% of workers whose managers are rated in the top quartile.
  • Excessive pressure at work – Four in ten (39%) of workers with the lowest rated managers say they are under excessive pressure at work often or always, compared to just 14% of those with the best managers.
  • Lower job satisfaction – Just three in ten (30%) people with bottom quartile rated line managers said they are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 88% of those with the highest rated managers.
  • Reduced willingness to go the extra mile – While 74% of people who rate their managers highly agree they volunteer to do things not normally required by the job, just 38% of employees with the worst managers said they would.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

“This research starkly shows that poor managers that lack key people management skills can have a very negative effect on the mental health, job satisfaction and performance of the people they manage.

“It also highlights that good manager behaviour can help mitigate against people experiencing excessive workloads and stress. Managers who treat people fairly and provide effective feedback and support, while also developing their staff and helping employees to work together, are likely to have happier, healthier and higher performing teams.

“Employers need to think carefully about how they recruit and develop managers at all levels to ensure they are equipped with the people management skills needed to manage people effectively.”

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