Press release:

Managers find working life more stressful, lonely post pandemic

Wednesday 22 March 2023
  • A new survey from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) finds that almost half of line managers say work is more stressful now than pre-pandemic.
  • First look at legacy of pandemic working habits reveals need for better support and training for managers.
  • But three in five believe changes brought about by the pandemic have delivered greater overall work-life balance, while a quarter disagree.

London - People managing others say their working life is now more stressful than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

New research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that while some managers identified improvements in productivity and staff well-being prompted by changes to ways of working first necessitated by the pandemic, they identified downsides that include work being more lonely, less rewarding and more stressful for them to manage.

Of the more than 1,000 managers surveyed, almost half (47%) of those with line management responsibilities agreed that work is more stressful now than before the pandemic, compared with 22% who disagreed.

Similarly, a third of all managers disagreed with the statement that work now is more rewarding than pre-pandemic, compared with just one fifth (22%) who agreed.

However, three in five managers agreed that the pandemic had delivered a greater work-life balance (58%), while only a quarter disagree that it has improved (24%) and two in five believe their workplace has become more productive, compared to a quarter (23%) who disagreed that productivity had increased.

The survey also found overwhelming agreement that colleagues are spending less time socialising since the end of the pandemic, with seven out of 10 agreeing with that statement and more than half (52%) stating that the workplace is now more lonely, a sentiment that was especially prevalent in larger organisations.

Anthony Painter, Policy Director at CMI, said:

Three years on from the first UK lockdown, these findings capture for the first time the evolving world of work as we fully emerge from the pandemic and they tell us that there is plenty still to be done to ensure new ways of working that have emerged - the gains we have seen - are fine-tuned, future fit and that they work for everyone.

Employers need to ensure their managers and leaders are equipped with the tools and training they need to lead hybrid and remote team members. Stressed out managers who are not finding their own work rewarding are a risk to those employers and we do not want to lose the upside that flexible working has delivered for so many.

Done well, flexible working leads to more diverse workplaces, welcoming in more women, people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups. That diversity of thought leads to better business outcomes but there can be no doubt that the upheaval to traditional ways of working brings challenges for managers and leaders that need to be carefully grappled with to ensure that the ‘wins’ of the pandemic changes to how we live and work are not lost.

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Notes to editors

  • This Managers Voice Pulse Point Poll was conducted between 16th February and 23rd February 2023.
  • A total of 1,083 managers took part in the poll.
  • Please note the findings relate to practising managers in employment in the UK.
  • Anthony Painter is available for interview.