‘Two-year itch’ among managers damages workplace productivity

A “two-year itch” experienced by managers as their happiness at work falls is undermining productivity, a survey of more than 1,000 team leaders has revealed.

The research, conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), asked managers to assess themselves and their teams in terms of confidence, happiness and performance.

Responses revealed that ‘happiness’ reaches a peak during the first years managers are in post but then it drops off and continues to fall after that period.

This represents a serious challenge for senior leaders and HR as the survey responses also suggested that happy managers were better managers overall.

People who rated themselves as high performers were among the top 10 per cent for happiness, rating this feeling as 86 out of 100 on average.

A similar link was found between unhappy managers and those who rated themselves as poor performers, with the bottom 10 per cent showing this correlation.

The survey showed that managers with happy and low-stressed team members were happier and less stressed themselves, indicating that both happiness and stress radiate up and down through organisations.

Charles Elvin, ILM chief executive, said: “Our research shows that managers’ performance and happiness tend to peak after two years within an organisation, before falling away rapidly.

“Organisations can counteract this ‘two year itch’ by harnessing and retaining managers’ early energy and enthusiasm with timely training over this crucial period.”

This research indicates a clear link between training and development, and the happiness and performance of both managers and their teams, the ILM said in its report ‘The pursuit of happiness: positivity and performance among UK managers’.

The report also said that managers with clear access to progression and development pathways were shown to be happier and performing at a higher level than those with less access.

“Our survey highlights the pressing need to target training more effectively for front-line managers, who have the least access to development opportunities, and stand out as being less happy, more stressed and performing to a lower level than their more senior colleagues,” Elvin added.

People Management

About elaineonyc

HR generalist who is passionate about the benefits of good HR practice. Experienced in delivering strategic and operational HR initiatives to clients in both public and private sectors. Specialises in working with SMEs.
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