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Increased Pressure Stretches Managers as Employees Return to Offices

Last updated:  September 30, 2022

Work-related stress is weighing on managers and senior leaders, who are more likely than other workers to consider leaving

PROVO, Utah and SEATTLE, Sept. 30, 2022–As the US undergoes a monumental shift in working habits, managers and senior leaders are feeling more pressure at work – not only to produce results, but also to be more visible to company leadership.

New research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM) finds that 43% of managers and 41% of senior leaders feel more pressure to produce results than they did a year ago. In addition to that pressure, in the new world of remote and hybrid work, 43% of managers also say they feel more pressure to be visible to leadership, regardless of their achievements.

Uncertainty about when and how often workers will have to be in the office continues to be a persistent source of tension between executives and employees. During the height of the pandemic, reports of burnout and mental health problems increased dramatically, and 58% of American workers attributed their mental health challenges to their jobs. And now, as organizations implement new return-to-office policies, they are looking to managers to enforce sometimes unpopular policies and manage teams from afar.

“Companies simply cannot take their managers for granted. They carry an increasingly heavy load and are the connective tissue that holds an organization together, especially during times of uncertainty and change,” said Qualtrics Chief Workplace Psychologist Dr. Benjamin Granger. “As we learned during the pandemic, it is essential that we care for our caregivers, and that applies in the workplace as well. Every company needs to be tuned in to how their people leaders are really doing, and identify ways to directly support them.”

The added stress may be pushing these groups to look for new jobs. Managers and senior leaders are more likely to look for a new job in the next six months than individual contributors and C-suite leaders. Qualtrics research shows that 57% of job seekers believe a new role will help them feel less burned out.

Young Workers Are Also Feeling the Heat

Young people who are newer to the workforce and may be concerned about layoffs are also more stressed about their work. Nearly half (47%) of Gen Z workers, ages 18-24 years old, feel increased pressure to produce results, and 42% of them say they are under more pressure to be visible to leadership, the highest levels among all age groups.

Chart showing the share of managers, senior leaders, and employees overall feeling increased stress, and what share are planning to leave in the next 6 months.


This study was fielded in August 2022. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and working full-time. The total number of respondents was more than 1,000.