Bridging the gap: Enhancing manager and employee relationship in 2024

by Carlo Borja
manager and employee relationships

Examining HR’s top goals for 2024 explores the essential topic of employee engagement and empowerment, with a focus on fixing tense manager-employee relationship. 

The modern workplace is changing significantly, and managers are overburdened, which stresses out workers and affects trust. It is clear that managers need more than simply more training as the delicate dance between engagement and trust stands on a knife-edge. 

Leaders who focus on people and culture are essential in changing the managerial environment because they highlight the importance of redefining positions, establishing expectations, encouraging autonomy, and developing enduring habits. 

This theme is comprehensive guidance for HR professionals in 2024, encompassing five bridge-building strategies that range from understanding both views to measuring outcomes. The main objective is to change the manager-employee dynamic in order to close trust gaps and improve engagement.

Mending manager-employee relationship

Managers are struggling. Employees are stressed. People and Culture must become a mediator and facilitator, helping to bridge widening trust gaps for the good of the entire organization. In a world of never-ending change, it’s not going to be easy.

There’s a big problem brewing. Employees are losing faith in managers, and managers are losing their grip on ever-expanding roles.

Breaking down HR’s top priorities in 2024 CTA

Managers are burning out…

  • 54% of managers are suffering from work-induced stress 
  • An average manager has 51% more responsibilities than they can effectively manage

…and it’s damaging their reputation

  • Only 1 in 2 employees is confident in their manager’s ability to lead their team to be successful in the next two years
  • 21% of US employees trust their organization’s leadership

While trust is teetering over the edge of a deep crevice, 18% of employees are actively disengaged, and a further 59% are on the way to checking out. Trust and engagement are linked. This is where you come in.

Managers are missing something 

One of the main challenges in modern workplaces is that managers need more guidance in their adapted roles. According to Gallup, more than half (57%) of hybrid managers received no training in handling the hybrid environment. Although (spoiler) training isn’t necessarily the answer, there’s a lot of middle ground between “no training of any kind” and “mandated coaching”.

More training isn’t the only answer

Three-quarters of People and Culture leaders feel managers in their organizations are overwhelmed. Guidance on managing a changed workforce can help, but it won’t solve the problem. You need to facilitate deeper change.

Step 1: (Re)set expectationsStep 2: Self-determinationStep 3: Build good habitsStep 4: Fewer steps
How it helpsManagers are 1.4x more likely to thrive after resetting expectations.Autonomy (and the opportunity to bow out) increases the likelihood of success by 2.3x.Establishing sustainable habits improves job manageability by up to 71%.Freeing up time to manage (instead of work) has the same benefit as re-scoping roles.
Your roleRe-scope the manager’s role to align their strengths with organizational goals. Management isn’t for everyone. Let managers learn  whether this is the right move. Help people managers to reflect on, analyze and adapt their habits.Work with managers to remove barriers and simplify processes.

5 bridge-building initiatives you can use in 2024

1. Get both sides of the story

It’s important to understand both perspectives before advising any action, whether through mediation and conflict resolution, or informally via an open-door policy.

2. Identify the root cause

Use data, insight and experience to trace trust gaps to the source. It’s often the case that misunderstandings arise from a culture of opaque management – but workday data doesn’t lie. 

3. Develop a roadmap

Your guidance will help managers and employees improve communication. Set milestones, check in, and give each a role in mending the relationship.

4. Establish feedback systems

Employees need to be comfortable giving feedback, and managers need to be comfortable feeding back to you. How this works depends on the individuals, but communication is non-negotiable.

5. Monitor outcomes

Workday data will tell you whether your initiatives are working. Monitor signals like absenteeism, schedule adherence and productivity to gauge employee-manager relationship.

Overhauling the employer brand

Positive workplace culture is about more than air hockey tables and corporate retreats. Organizations attracting and retaining the best people in 2024 will have systems to connect employees to each other and embed a sense of purpose beyond the job title.

Employer branding is a combination of culture and promotion. Candidates see straight through an inauthentic brand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t boast (within reason) about great experiences.

What employees expectHow you can prove you have it
A good work-life balance– Demonstrate work-life balance through workday data
– Work with managers to nip burnout in the bud
– Implement well-being programs
Flexible work arrangements– Design, champion and communicate flexible work policies
– Widen the recruitment pool to find the best people
– Use workday data to facilitate and demonstrate non-traditional schedules
Competitive compensation and benefits– Establish salary KPIs and review processes
– Offer equitable benefits
– Promote, or ideally codify, learning and development opportunities
Opportunities for growth and development– Discuss progression pathways with candidates
– Share ‘success stories’ 
– Set clear KPIs for new employees
– Track turnover and retention data
A supportive and inclusive work environment– Define 
– Document DEI initiatives
– Measure employee engagement metrics
– Establish lines for feedback
A company that is committed to social responsibility and sustainability– Measure DEI outcomes, ideally in a transparent report
– Educate managers on the importance of mental health and well-being 
– Guide leaders on the tangible benefits of sustainability action

Employees now seek out organizations and roles that align with their personal values and offer a clear sense of purpose. Which makes this next stat concerning: in August 2023, only 33% of employees (in the US) felt connected to their company’s purpose. Connection is at all-time low levels, and we’re seeing the outcome in the Great Resignation and the proliferation of quiet quitting.

Burnout is kryptonite for employer branding 

If you thought manager burnout was bad, employee burnout is worse. Estimates range from 25% to 75% of employees experiencing burnout. 

Bringing burnout under control is your first and most effective priority for building a standout employer brand in 2024. Before attracting top talent, the groundwork needs to be in place for current employees – including managers – to thrive.

Steps you can take to douse burnout in 2024

  • Analyze workday data to identify burnout risk factors

Signs include unscheduled weekend work, overtime hours, absenteeism and frequent distractions. 

  • Help managers promote work-life balance

Using your new understanding, help managers to intervene when the early signs of burnout appear.

  • Empower employees to self-manage

Giving employees tools to manage their workloads helps establish agency, which boosts engagement and reduces burnout risk.

  • Provide mental health support

This could involve employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health resources and stress management programs. 

  • Destigmatize mental health conversations

It might take time for employees to feel comfortable talking about mental health or seeking support through EAPs. 

  • Introduce flexible work arrangements 

Test the waters with remote work or asynchronous scheduling. Monitor the results and use data to design a proper policy.

Conclusion

The importance of people and culture becomes more and more important as problems grow and gaps in trust between managers and employees increase. It is clear that a revolutionary strategy is required when employees lose confidence and managers struggle with stress and growing responsibilities. 

Understanding the limitations of training alone, the focus moves to supporting deeper change. To help managers succeed, the following actions are essential: lowering standards, encouraging self-determination, developing positive habits, and streamlining procedures. 

Furthermore, the suggested activities aimed at creating bridges and methods for revamping employer branding stress the need of understanding other viewpoints, figuring out the root causes, and cultivating a happy workplace. 

It’s obvious that managers and executives that prioritize People and Culture work well together to build a strong workplace culture, trust, and organizational resilience as we navigate the complexity of today’s workplace.

 
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