Great Managers = Great Workplaces: Three in Four Employees Globally Say Their Manager Directly Motivates Them to Go Above and Beyond

UKG Workforce Institute study shows managers’ critical role in creating great workplaces — and why they need support, too

LOWELL, Mass. & WESTON, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Managers have a major impact on employees’ productivity and engagement, as well as other factors that create a great place to work such as building trust, fostering open communication, and caring for employees as individuals, according to a new global study by the UKG Workforce Institute. However, managers also report the highest levels of burnout at work, underlining the critical need for more organizational support in order to be the most effective in their roles.


About three in four employees (73%) say their manager’s support, encouragement, and/or leadership directly motivates them to go above and beyond in the workplace, and more than a third of employees (37%) say having a good manager — one who’s accessible but doesn’t micro-manage — makes them feel the most productive at work. Moreover, according to the UKG study:

87% of employees believe their manager trusts them.

79% of employees say their manager supports their career goals.

75% of employees feel their manager cares for and has empathy for them.

63% of employees say their manager supports them as a whole person.

When it comes to open communication, a pillar of building a great place to work for all people, 59% of employees say their manager is approachable and easy to talk with. A majority of employees also have regular conversations with their manager that motivate them — including 19% of employees who say these conversations occur daily and over one third (35%) saying the constructive chats happen weekly.

Managers Are Making an Impact — But Feeling the Brunt of Burnout

While managers have a great impact on fostering a great workplace, the UKG study reveals they’re also feeling a great crunch from the role’s responsibilities. Eight in 10 managers (86%) report experiencing job burnout (i.e., work-related stress associated with physical and emotional exhaustion) — the most of any group, including employees (82%) and even C-suite leaders (73%). So much so, that nearly half (49%) of all managers surveyed say they would accept a pay cut to reduce their workload.

“We’ve long said at UKG that great managers are key to creating great workplaces and driving positive results — and this study affirms that belief. Though, like the plane safety instructions about putting your own oxygen mask on first, managers need the full support of their organizations to care for themselves in order to fully support their employees,” said Pat Wadors, chief people officer at UKG. “The good news is nearly half (46%) of the C-suite leaders we surveyed say their companies offer training on people skills, performance management, and more in support of managers’ success — but there’s still work to do.”

Supportive Managers Boost Employee Engagement

The UKG study also uncovered that employees who feel supported by their managers feel more engaged in the workplace. For example:

93% of employees who say their manager trusts them also feel “Energized” — they genuinely enjoy work; are passionate about their career; care a lot about their company, co-workers, and/or customers; and are inspired to always go above and beyond without being asked.

84% of employees who say their manager supports their career goals also feel “Committed” — they like their work and care about their career; often put in additional effort to make sure they do a good job for their company, support their team, and/or serve their customers; and they’re happy to go above and beyond at work when needed.

Despite Role’s Demands, Most Managers Still Enjoy Managing

It’s no secret that being a people leader is one of the most challenging roles in the workplace today. Despite the dynamic demands, 79% of managers still say they enjoy being a manager and hope to always remain in a management role. As to their primary reason for becoming a people leader, the UKG study found 60% of managers chose the role because they “like to help others succeed” — the top-ranking response, and a greater motivator than higher compensation (54%), career progression (36%), or having power (24%).

Most people leaders also recognize that their role expands beyond just managing their teams, and often means serving as a coach both inside and outside of the workplace. According to the UKG study, 88% of managers say they regularly mentor employees and help them advance in their careers, and 86% of managers believe they can talk to any of their direct reports or peers about work or personal issues.

“People leaders wear many hats, from shift manager to career counselor, and everything in between,” said Dr. Jarik Conrad, vice president of human insights at UKG and executive director of the UKG Workforce Institute. “Supporting our managers means providing the right tools and technology that make this vital role that much easier — from personalized nudges that cut through daily distractions to proven practices that help leaders get to know their team members as individuals, which can be challenging when you’re managing dozens of people. The best workplaces make the hard stuff simple for people, and when you’re wholly committed to caring for all employees, building a great place to work becomes part of a healthy routine.”

About the UKG Workforce Institute

Established in 2007, the UKG Workforce Institute is a global think tank of HR practitioners, researchers, and business leaders dedicated to driving organizational growth and performance through an emphasis on people. Every week, we share original research, data-driven insights, and actionable strategies from our esteemed board members and various industry experts. We’re focused on the key areas of compliance, culture, talent, technology, and wellbeing, how each impacts the workforce, from the frontline to the C-suite, and what organizations can do to best serve their employees across different industries, today and in the future.

About UKG

At UKG, our purpose is people. We are on a mission to inspire every organization to become a great place to work through HCM technology built for all. More than 80,000 customers across all sizes, industries, and geographies trust UKG HR, payroll, workforce management, and culture cloud solutions to drive great workplace experiences and make better, more confident people and business decisions. With the world’s largest collection of people data, work data, and culture data combined with rich experience using artificial intelligence in the service of people, we connect culture insights with business outcomes to show what’s possible when organizations invest in their people. To learn more, visit ukg.com.

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Survey Methodology: Research findings are based on a survey conducted by Walr from August 16 to September 4, 2023. In total, 4,200 employees in nine countries completed the survey. For the U.S., the study also included managers and C-suite leaders. Responses were gathered from 1,800 total workers in the U.S. (600 employees, 600 managers, and 600 C-suite leaders), 1,000 employees in Australia/New Zealand, and 200 employees each in Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the U.K. The survey explored issues around burnout and time use at work, leadership types and trust areas, and productivity.

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