Two in five workers have quit jobs due to bad management as remote working takes its toll on employee-manager relationships

Just over two in five (43%) UK employees have quit a job because of a bad manager and more than half of those actively seeking a new job (53%) are looking to switch roles due to their current manager, according to new research from people analytics company, Visier.

As employers struggle to fill vacant roles and hold on to key talent in the face of the Great Resignation, the impact of good management on staff retention is laid bare. The study of 2,100 UK employees revealed that 85% believe having a good manager is important to their happiness at work, whilst almost four in ten (38%) say they have stayed in jobs longer than they intended to due to a good relationship with a manager.

The changing employee-manager relationship

Though a clear majority of employees agree flexible working is a good thing for both workers (74%) and businesses (69%), it is acknowledged that some aspects of remote working during the pandemic have had a detrimental effect on the relationship with their managers. Employees cite a lack of face-to-face meetings (51%), increased working from home (44%), and an over-reliance on emails (44%) as the main contributors to this.

The data suggests that leaders have struggled to develop strong relationships with staff with less than half of workers (48%) feeling comfortable enough to talk to their manager about their personal life.

“The old cliché – people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers – rings true, and the pandemic has made it harder for leaders to develop personal relationships with employees,” said Daniel Mason, VP EMEA of Visier. “This isn’t a case of leaders becoming bad managers overnight, but instead they are making difficult decisions with less information available to them.”

“The move to remote and hybrid working has starved managers of the opportunity to observe and meet with team members. Face-to-face interactions and other natural moments to develop a rapport are fewer, so managers should look to enhance their toolkit with data and insights to better understand and anticipate employee needs.”

The good manager

The study also asked employees to identify the most important traits of a good manager, with treating people well, listening to workers, and showing respect to all members of staff being the most popular responses, each chosen by 47% of respondents. When asked about the attributes of a bad manager, failure to listen was the top response from 49% of those surveyed, while being unapproachable (47%), treating other members of staff differently (43%) and shouting at the team (42%) were some of the other red flags cited by employees.

When asked about happiness in the workplace, enjoying their work (45%), good pay (39%) and good colleagues (35%) were identified as the most important factors. Plus, 62% believed they currently had a good manager, whilst only 45% thought they could do the job better themselves. When this group were asked how they could improve,53% said they understood the concerns of other employees, 46% would treat all members of staff with equal respect and 36% would make the effort to get to know the people they manage better.

“Businesses have spent the past few decades using data and other innovations to improve customer relationships and increase revenues,” added Mason. “Many organisations are yet to harness these methods to better understand their most important asset – employees.”

“Every organisation already has a wealth of people data scattered throughout. Modern tools and analytics can find and organise this data to generate people insights to help you better understand and manage talent. When these insights are combined with other types of data from across the organisation, the result can drive more impactful business outcomes and unlock the next wave of growth and success.”

To help managers make more informed decisions about their teams, Visier is helping customers combine people data with business data as part of its people cloud. You can find out more here