Learning & Development, Startup HR

The Factors Contributing to Millennial Manager Burnout

For many, landing that first management-level position is a significant career milestone and something countless millennials have experienced in recent years as they continue to gain experience and seniority within the workforce. But these middle-management positions aren’t always the dream jobs they seem to be, and many millennial managers are starting to feel burned out.

Middle Management Taking Its Toll

“Middle management can be a tough job, constantly toggling between supervisors above and supervisees below,” writes Kate Morgan in an article for BBC Worklife. It’s an isolating experience that can be very taxing, she says, sharing research conducted by Columbia University in 2015 that found that 18% of middle managers reported symptoms of depression compared with 12% for blue-collar workers and 11% for owners and executives.

Of course, that was then, but this is now. Things have gotten even worse during the pandemic, Morgan says. “Research during the pandemic has shown middle managers are finding it harder than senior leaders to maintain workplaces relationships – and only half feel they can rely on their colleagues.”

Millennials Particularly Hard Hit

While middle management has always been a role fraught with difficulty and stress, millennials have been hit particularly hard due to the common ideals shared by many in this generation, as well as the place many find themselves in with respect to family life outside of work. “Middle managers who are millennials are particularly likely to be feeling the squeeze,” says Morgan. She points to another study from MetLife, which indicates that millennial managers are far more likely than those from other generations to report burnout. “That’s partly due to growing up in a culture that glorifies overwork, plus being a generation saddled with care responsibilities for both parents and children,” she notes. 

And, of course, all of these stressors are only further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only does the pandemic create its own source of stress, but the shift to remote work at many organizations also means it’s harder for leaders to notice the signs of burnout among their ranks. So, while a promotion may seem like a great boon to young employees, companies should keep an eye out for signs of stress and burnout in these newly minted leaders.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.