Middle Managers Accounted for Almost a Third of Layoffs Last Year

Estimated read time 2 min read
  • Job cuts for middle managers have increased by more than 10% since 2018, according to Bloomberg.
  • Middle managers’ confidence in companies’ outlooks is decreasing due to layoffs and burnout.
  • Despite cuts, a McKinsey report emphasizes middle managers’ importance for effective organization.

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Times are tough for the middle managers of corporate America.

Job cuts for middle managers — those below the executive ranks who still have direct reports — increased to 31.5% of total layoffs in 2023, according to a data analysis by Live Data Technologies for Bloomberg. That’s up from a little under 20% in 2018.

As a result, middle managers are less confident about their companies’ business outlook than other employees. Midlevel employees’ confidence in their employers’ six-month outlook is down 6.3% from February 2023 to February 2024, according to Glassdoor’s Employee Confidence Index. And between layoffs, fights over remote work, and increased workload, many middle managers are simply burned out.

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Middle managers have been feeling the heat since early last year when Meta embarked on its mandate of efficiency. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he didn’t want to see so many “managers managing managers, managing managers, managing managers, managing the people who are doing the work” during an internal Q&A session in January 2023. Then, he made good on that promise and cut some 10,000 employees from the company’s ranks.

Salesforce, too, has culled layers of management over the past year and even turned some managers into “individual contributors.”

Some top executives, however, say that cutting middle managers could threaten productivity.

“We need to view middle managers as being at the center of the action,” McKinsey wrote in a report based on interviews with CEOs about their priorities for 2024. “Without their ability to connect and integrate people and tasks, an organization can cease to function effectively.”