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Line managers are feeling the heat as team sizes grow

“Common-sense dictates that the larger and more fragmented teams become, the harder it is for the Line Manager to monitor and meet everyone’s needs”

New research from Legal & General Group Protection has found that over two in five (43%) UK Line Managers in businesses with more than 250 employees are managing teams in excess of 10 people; with 5% of those managing 50+ people. Overall, one in four (25%) Line Managers said their team size had grown since before the pandemic.1

The Legal & General Wellbeing at Work Barometer1 found that, at the other end of the scale, 34% of Line Managers had teams of up to five people and 22% of team sizes fell with the range of six to 10 people.

Line Managers: We need help to live, breathe and better contextualise wellbeing
When Line Managers were asked what would most improve their wellbeing, in first place came ‘more flexible working options’ (41%), followed by ‘recognition of work well done – informal and/or formal’ (37%) then ‘more flexible employee benefits, suited to my needs’ (35%).

Line Manager respondents also said the top way in which they could be helped to improve the wellbeing support they provided to their teams was ‘recognition from the top that managers are employees and have wellbeing needs too’ (41%) followed by ‘clear direction from the top on company purpose and values and how wellbeing fits in’ (38%).

Team members: We’d like to see our managers walking the wellbeing talk
Meanwhile, team members said the top three ways in which an employer could help with their wellbeing in the workplace were: ‘offer me flexible working arrangements’ (35%); ‘talk more openly as an organisation about mental health and the need for wellbeing for all’ (32%); and ‘lead from the top when it comes to positive wellbeing practices’ (31%).

The insurance industry can help Line Managers support themselves and their teams
Legal & General says that insurers and intermediaries are well placed to support Line Manager wellbeing via services that HR probably already have in place. The provider’s group income protection programme includes, for example:

  • Support to carry out stress risk assessments: using either the HSE Management Standards or the ISO45003 and including liaison with Occupational Health and / or Health & Safety if required.
  • The Be Well helpline: direct phone access for line managers, , to vocational clinical specialists, for early intervention advice and support. For example, how to suitably support a team member to remain in work where they might be showing signs of stress and / or struggling to carry out their full range of duties.
  • Personalised care pathway support: multidisciplinary team support where an individual is absent and claiming on group income protection – anything from Long Covid and musculoskeletal pathways to mental health, work-related stress and cancer.
  • Everyday wellbeing support: access to various services, whether claiming or not, such as the Employee Assistance Programme and Care Concierge service; the latter providing support to unpaid working carers who need help to investigate care options for a loved one.
  • The Be Well hub: tools to help employers create or update their wellbeing policies; free wellbeing resources for employees; practical ideas for quick wins and implementation, plus on-demand webinars, a risk audit tool and signposting support.
  • Communication Toolkit: a step-by-step guide to help make wellbeing communication to teams more tailored and relevant.

Vanessa Sallows, Claims & Governance Director, Legal & General Group Protection, commented: “It’s broadly agreed that line managers are the glue that keeps an organisation running. Common-sense dictates that the larger and more fragmented teams become, the harder it is for the Line Manager to monitor and meet everyone’s needs, keep motivating the team, and importantly avoid neglecting their own wellbeing.  If this fine balance becomes destabilised, there is a knock-on effect on everyone involved, including across recruitment, retention and productivity.”

1 All data points referenced in this press release are taken from Legal & General’s Wellbeing at Work Barometer. The research was conducted by Opinium among 1,000 employees within businesses with over 250 employees, 13 – 27 August 2021.

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