Middle managers in the United States are increasingly dissatisfied with their current employer, think their organisation is mismanaged and see few prospects for career advancement.
The growing scale of this disillusionment is revealed in a new survey by Accenture which has found that a third of the managers would go as far as to describe their organisation as "mismanaged."
While two-thirds of middle managers in last year's survey reported that they were extremely or very satisfied with their organisation, the figure for this year has fallen to fewer than half (48 per cent).
When asked to describe their companies' performance in a number of areas, few respondents were positive.
Fewer than one in three (28 per cent) rated the way their organisation manages prospects for advancement as good or excellent, while the proportion acknowledging that their companies were good or excellent at helping them communicate bad news was barely higher at 31 per cent.
In fact, only about a third of respondents reported that their companies were good or excellent at managing: compensation, flexible work arrangements, communications between supervisors and subordinates, and training and development.
"The decline of employee loyalty, particularly at the critical middle manager level, should be a growing source of concern for senior management, and the fact that middle managers think their companies are mismanaged is particularly alarming," said Ed Jensen from Accenture's Human Performance practice.
"These managers are frustrated about a broad set of concerns and see only a limited future at their current organisation.
"When the negatives about a company trump the positives, the balance between deciding to stay or leave will tip in the wrong direction."
When asked about the most frustrating aspects of their jobs, a predictable litany of complaints emerged.
Almost half (47 per cent) cited compensation issues, but this was closely followed by four out of 10 who were unhappy with their work-life balance.
Almost as commonplace was the feeling that middle managers do the bulk of the work and don't receive the appropriate credit, with more than a third also complaining that their organisation gave them no clear career path.
Little wonder, then, that almost six out of 10 of those surveyed said they would consider changing jobs and three out of 10 are already looking – a big rise on the one in five who said the same thing last year.
Managers' motivation for seeking another job mirrored their complaints, with almost one in three moving on for better pay or benefits, almost a quarter looking for better promotion prospects and one in five for better conditions or job prospects.
"Competition has toughened for almost every organisation, and now each one must build the right capabilities to deliver high performance," said Jensen.
"Reinventing the role of middle managers will be critical to this effort, particularly as increasing numbers of employees look toward retirement. Creating positive environments for employees to succeed will be a critical factor for winning in the marketplace."