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The Squeezed Middle: Millennial Managers Worse-off While Supporting a Burnt-out Workforce

New MetLife study finds heightened imperative for employers to better support their people managers and improve their well-being

As U.S. employers reimagine the workplace due to the significant impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, managers – and particularly Millennial managers – have taken on the challenge of supporting employees’ well-being even when it diminishes their own.

A new MetLife study finds Millennial managers, ages 26-40, are significantly more likely to say they are burned out (42 percent) than managers of any other generation (34 percent Gen Z, 27 percent Gen X, and 21 percent Boomers) and individual contributors (30 percent).

One driver could be the degree to which Millennial managers are stepping up to support their employees’ well-being. According to MetLife’s study, 52 percent of employees with supportive Millennial managers say they are healthy across all four pillars of physical, financial, social, and mental health, versus just 18 percent of those who say their managers aren’t supportive.

“The pandemic has changed the way we work – from the way we do our jobs to how we interact with one another – and managers have been tasked with navigating this for their employees,” said Missy Plohr-Memming, senior vice president, Group Benefits, MetLife. “As the largest generation in the workforce today, Millennials – and particularly those in management roles – have a significant impact on their organization’s ability to succeed in the new normal.”

Millennial managers foster strong employee performance but sacrifice their own well-being

Manager support is surely important to an organization: the study finds a significant difference between those with and without supportive managers. For example, employees with supportive managers of any generation are notably more likely to feel productive (+46 percent), successful (+82 percent), engaged (+81 percent), and motivated (+110 percent) than those who lack managerial support. This is especially pivotal for employees with Millennial managers who report higher increases compared to those with managers from other generations in feeling productive (+58 percent), successful (+129 percent), engaged (+120 percent) and motivated (+140 percent) when they have a supportive versus a non-supportive manager.

While organizations reap the benefits of strong manager support in general and Millennial manager support in particular through greater employee productivity and engagement, the Millennial managers themselves are feeling a squeeze. In fact, Millennial managers now feel more overwhelmed, burnt out, and stressed while working compared to December 2020.

Training and benefits are critical to Millennial managers’ well-being now and into the future

As younger generations continue to move into management roles within the workforce, employers should consider offering training and tools for these leaders, including Millennial managers who are already taking on the greater responsibility of ensuring the well-being of their teams – while also managing their own – now and into the future.

In fact, Millennial managers and executives are more likely than other generations to want training and support in a number of key areas affecting the workforce today, including people management (82 percent); managing personal stress (78 percent); conducting conversations around sensitive topics such as diversity and inclusion (D&I) and social justice (74 percent); and management of hybrid remote/onsite teams (74 percent).

Furthermore, MetLife’s study shows that Millennial managers who say their employer offers a range of benefits that meet their personal and household needs are significantly more likely to report being holistically healthy (54 percent vs. 30 percent) and resilient (70 percent vs. 46 percent).

As for the specific benefits they are interested in, Millennial managers are significantly more likely now to describe financial planning tools (+40 percent), pet insurance (+58 percent), and legal services (+50 percent) as “must haves” compared to pre-pandemic.

“The effects of the pandemic have caused many employers to adjust their workplace policies and benefit programs in real-time, and this will only continue. As we reimagine the workforce of the future, employers must consider the varying needs of their managers, and what tools they may need for long-term success,” said Plohr-Memming. “Millennials, who will make up the majority of our future management, are eager for these skills and benefits for themselves and their teams.”

Research Methodology

MetLife’s 19th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Manager Study was conducted in June 2021 and July 2021. The study was fielded by Rainmakers CSI – an international strategy, insight and planning consultancy. The survey consists of 2,652 interviews with full-time employees, ages 21 and over, at companies with at least two employees.

About Rainmakers CSI

Rainmakers CSI is a UK-based global strategy, insight and planning consultancy with a focus on delivering game-changing commercial impact. Since our inception in 2007, we’ve worked collaboratively with leading companies to help define opportunities for brands, categories and businesses. Our expertise spans not only Financial Services, but also Food and Drink, Beauty, Healthcare, Telecoms, Technology, Entertainment, and Travel. Our programs and client relationships span all continents, with 50 percent of our work originating in the US. For more information, visit

About MetLife

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates ("MetLife"), is one of the world's leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 markets and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit


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