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Stretched managers succumbing to burnout

Almost half of managers working in manufacturing say their responsibilities have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a global survey across 20 countries.

Workplace culture firm O.C. Tanner surveyed over 36,000 employees, leaders and HR practitioners as part of its 2023 Global Culture Report, including nearly 3,000 based in the manufacturing sector.

One of the headline findings for the industry is the impact of increasing stress on managers. Over a fifth (21 per cent) of manufacturing managers said they were finding it more difficult to stay positive at work since the pandemic, and one in three manufacturing employees reported that their managers seem stressed.

According to the managers surveyed, the main tasks taking up more of their time since the pandemic include:

  • Project/team meetings (41 per cent)
  • Management meetings (39 per cent)
  • Training and mentoring (37 per cent).

Despite the increased workload, a fifth (19 per cent) of managers said it had become more difficult to access support from their senior leaders.

The impact has resulted in many managers succumbing to stress and burnout, O.C. Tanner reported. Robert Ordever, European Managing Director, explained:

“This increase in workload for managers is negatively impacting their wellbeing and engagement, as well as overall company culture. They are expected to do far more but with the same if not fewer resources, and eventually something has to give and it’s all too often their mental health.”

“Managers are stretched far too thinly these days, with meetings and mentoring occupying more time than ever before. Leaders must recognise this and find ways to ease their burden.”

Among the recommendations for helping stretched managers is a robust support network for them to seek advice, ask for help and share best practice. Giving recognition for their efforts is also important – the research found that leaders and managers in organisations with a good culture of recognition have a 38 per cent reduced chance of developing anxiety.

Using compassion in manufacturing

Commenting on what senior leaders need to offer their managers, Ordever added:

“Managers need support and recognition just as much as any employee. This must be given regularly and authentically, with appreciation integrated into everyday culture so that it flows in all directions. Managers will then feel part of a caring workplace community in which their contributions are continually seen and valued.”


Greater Manchester SMEs can access dedicated, one-to-one support to improve workplace culture from our specialist team of Manufacturing Advisors. Contact us today for a diagnostic.

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