Have organisations squeezed the ‘squeezed middle’ too much?

Why now is the time to take line manager wellbeing seriously

Bajorek Z | HR Network paper 159 | Institute for Employment Studies | Sep 2022

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Organisational productivity and employee performance are two of the most studied topics in management research, with the focus on how both can be maximised, and operational effectiveness can be achieved (Knies, Leisink and Kraus-Hoogeveen, 2018). Much of this research has focused on organisational leaders and top management structures who are viewed as fundamental to the development of organisational priorities and the strategies to reach them. Guest (2011) noted that in doing so, however, the role of the front-line manager is frequently ignored, even though their contribution to achieving organisational goals is pivotal because they are at the sharp end of people management.

There are a lot of expectations about what a line manager should ‘do’ in their role, but what has been missing from a lot of these discussions is how the health and wellbeing of line managers has an impact on the delivery of these tasks, and on the wellbeing of those they manage. Evidence suggests that there is a distinct link between worker functioning (in terms of health and performance) and organisational performance (Day, Penney and Hartling, 2019). If this is also seen in line management functioning, surely now is the time that line management wellbeing is taken seriously, and how organisations stop squeezing the squeezed.