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Survey: 84 Percent of U.S. Workers Blame Bad Managers for Creating Unnecessary Stress

ALEXANDRIA, Va., August 12, 2020—A new SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) survey affirms the workplace adage that employees leave managers, not companies, as 84 percent of U.S. workers say poorly trained managers create a lot of unnecessary work and stress. The survey of U.S. workers examined their perspective on how ill—or well-equipped—their supervisor(s) were to manage people, the most important skills managers should develop, and how a better manager could improve their own performance as an individual contributor.

Key Findings:

  • 84 percent of American workers say poorly trained people managers create a lot of unnecessary work and stress; 

  • 57 percent of American workers say managers in their workplace could benefit from training on how to be a better people manager;

  • Half (50 percent) feel their own performance would improve if their direct supervisor received additional training in people management; 
  • The top five skills people managers could improve, according to American workers, were: Communicating effectively (41 percent), developing and training the team (38 percent), managing time and delegating (37 percent), cultivating a positive and inclusive team culture (35 percent), and managing team performance (35 percent).

"There is no relationship in the workplace more powerful than the one between people managers and employees," said SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "As working Americans challenge organizations to manage and lead differently, those that don't will find themselves left behind. SHRM's PMQ provides people managers with the training and skills they need to build high-performing teams. By skilling up managers, HR can spend more time strategizing, cultivating culture, and delivering bottom line results."

The survey released today reinforces existing SHRM research; notably, its report from Q3 of 2019, The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture, which found 1 in 4 American workers dread going to work, and estimated U.S. companies had lost $223 billion due to culture-caused turnover.

The release of the new findings coincide with the launch of SHRM's People Manager Qualification (PMQ), a new, interactive and evidence-based virtual learning program designed to help managers build the skills most needed to lead.

The PMQ offers easy to consume and interactive videos, allowing managers to role-play challenging scenarios and understand the full impact of their decisions. The complete learning experience is self-paced and takes approximately 10 and 13 hours to complete, concluding with a final behavioral assessment.

MEDIA: Contact Julie Hirschhorn at and 703-842-5152 or Cooper Nye at and 703-535-6447.

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.


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