The high cost of job dissatisfaction

A Gallup poll says 52% of full-time workers are disengaged, costing US companies from $450 billion to $550 billion every year.

By Jason Notte Jun 13, 2013 7:28AM
Man making faces from behind laptop © James Braund, Digital Vision, Getty ImagesWell, America, you've finally done it: You've stopped looking to your job for fulfillment and started looking at it as the unpleasant means to an end that your parents always grumbled it was.

With the recession prompting more people to hold on to any job with a paycheck and making it tough to quit until just recently, Gallup found that 52% of all full-time workers in the U.S. are not involved in their work, not particularly enthusiastic about it and are committed only as much as they have to be. And 18% of those folks are "actively disengaged" and have checked out to the point that they're actually a hindrance to co-workers and management.

Then again, 30% of American workers are excited about their jobs, which matches the highest level of enthusiasm since Gallup started measuring it back in 2008.

So what are those people doing that more than half the workforce isn't? Being born female, taking management gigs, living in Louisiana and working in companies or on teams with 10 or fewer employees. Each of those elements contributed to higher engagement, as did working at growing companies rather than those that are stagnant or dying.

Gallup surveyed thousands of U.S. workers, managers and companies in its annual State of the American Workplace report and had a far bigger goal in mind than telling everyone just how miserable the American workforce is. According to Gallup's estimates, unhappy workers who call in sick regularly or devise plans to take as much time off as possible cost U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion every year.

That means it might get really ugly for U.S. employers if things don't pick up soon. At 26.2%, workers ages 25 to 34 already have an unemployment rate that's higher than in Canada, the U.K., France, Japan, Australia, Russia and Germany. And the Labor Department says it's also the only group in the U.S. that saw its average wages decrease over the same span.

Right now, only one job is available in the U.S. for every three people who apply. The domestic economy has regained just 5.7 million of the 8.7 million jobs shed during the Great Recession. Worse, roughly 65% of those jobs are of the low-wage variety, though nearly 60% of all jobs lost during the slump paid middle-income wages or better, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The most common job in America since the recession is in retail sales. Those workers number 4.3 million (greater than the population of Kentucky) and make only $25,000 a year, well below the more than $45,000 national median wage.

While college students are still far better off than their less educated peers, art school students and MBAs alike are being crushed by student debt. Deeply indebted doctorate recipients are seeking food stamps in increasing numbers. Roughly 284,000 college graduates are making minimum wage.

No wonder so many people are disillusioned about their jobs.

More on moneyNOW

Jun 13, 2013 9:45AM
First of all, if a company isn't in Tune to what workers they should Keep and which one don't fit their needs, that's the fault of the Company, not the workers. Second point, it's not that big of a Surprise that so many workers don't give a dam about most companies since most workers are treated like Trash and companies don't give a dam about them.

The Real Surprise is that the number isn't far higher concerning workers actively disengaged and only do what the job actually pays. I know the Media and all their cushy high Figure Jobs might not know this but Productivity has soared for Real Workers while pay has not. In fact, many of today's jobs pay LESS. Workers are shown little respect and are treated as a commodity to be thrown away. This should be about the harsh treatment of Workers and the lack of actual Work by the Barking Dogs. Most Companies don't want to pay a living Wage and as a result, the overall economy has suffered greatly.
Jun 13, 2013 10:49AM
I loved my job for 11 years the final 2 of 13  I worked was absolutely miserable because of the hiring of a new supervisor who had no clue, and made a great job turn into a living hell for everyone!!!!  I was lucky enough to be prepared and was able to get out (not something I really wanted to do) but it was quit or kill myself from the stress this person created!!!  I pray everyday for the ones still there struggling....I don't believe the owners know the mistake they have made and it will probably be too late by the time they finally get their act together....It seems to be common ground now to over work the ones that are good and let the rest play...I feel like I was a victim and I keep praying everyday that God will help me forgive this person and company as a whole...
Jun 13, 2013 12:16PM
I am trying like hell to work for myself. Hard work, being honest, going the extra mile has never paid off for me. I was a construction secretary for the project manager a couple of years and did everything; a kid in a mini-skirt, high heels and recent boob job walked in the door as an assistant to me and started off with what it took me two years to make. Big corporations like Fuji Photo Film hire temps while letting go of full-time workers. We've let corporations just screw the little guy and our politicians have benefitted greatly while we lose.
Jun 13, 2013 11:52AM
If you hire a supervisor who is a nacacistic psychopath, which most companies do, since that type of personality generally impresses managment, you will cause your employees to hate their jobs.  If you hire a decent normal soft-spoken individual to be a supervisor, which never happens because a normal person chooses not to stand out and that does not impress management, your employees will be happy.
Jun 13, 2013 11:19AM
I see it from both sides.  Why should an employee give a damn when they are probably underpaid and have no incentive to work hard?  When promotion time comes, often (not always!) a loser will get promoted because they need the hard workers in the trenches.  The loser then hires more losers and the process spirals out of control and you have a few dedicated managers and employees doing everybody's work.  On the other hand, we have a job to do and a lot of people just get in the way.  Do you know how hard it can be to fire these people?  Employees disillusioned about jobs, managers disillusioned with their teams.  It does not make for a happy workplace.
Jun 13, 2013 12:33PM
I like it when they tell me, "You're lucky to have a job".
Jun 13, 2013 11:31AM
When you see your tax dollars being used to support lazy people that scam to get on benefit programs, it's hard to be enthusiastic about working.
Jun 13, 2013 12:36PM
I loved my engineering job.  That is until it moved to Mexico.  I'm too old to be considered for another engineering job, and had to take a few blue collar jobs.  I've hated everyone of those.  In blue collar positions, you get treated like ****.
Jun 13, 2013 11:43AM

One also needs to feel there`s a future in their job.Ceo`s don`t deserve millions and then millions

for being fired.The minimum wage is too low.The worst jobs I had paid minimum or less when I was a teen.

Jun 13, 2013 1:20PM

If employers would stop treating employees like the "expendable workforce to be exploited" then employees would be happy. The guilty know who they are, remember "your business is only as good as its employees." Employers, if all you are going to pay is peanuts you will only attract monkeys!

Jun 13, 2013 12:41PM
After the limited rehiring began, following the mass layoffs of 2008, employers were short sighted.  They began recruiting back the highly experienced, highly knowledgeable folks at about entry level wages.  Most of those folks accepted those offers (I know I did) because it was better than being unemployed.  Now the compass is starting to turn.  Professional and skilled jobs are becoming increasingly available at appropriate compensation levels, and these workers who accepted low ball offers are disenchanted with their low ball employers and are increasingly moving on, back to compensation levels more in line with their experience and expertise.  Perhaps those companies were penny wise and dollar foolish, or perhaps they made the best financial decision for their company at that time.  But, either way, certainly no one could have realistically expected those workers to be satisfied with those low paying positions when things began to change. 
Jun 13, 2013 10:04AM
To the  TO BIG TO FAIL=TO BIG TO JAIL Criminal Banking Cartel.    DIE BANK OF AMERICA DIE !
Jun 13, 2013 1:11PM
The ones that work hard are the ones that get **** upon at my work. I'm a hard worker and am starting not to work so hard because I put heart and soul into it and  others who do nothing get away with it. They hold the hard workers to higher standards than what are ever expected from the slackers. Why should I bother anymore - I'm jumping over to the slacker side.
Jun 13, 2013 2:10PM
when do these corporate idiots wake up and realize it is not in the best interest of business/ the economy/ and culture in general to sh.. on the working class? we live in a society that is heavily reliant upon consumer spending. what happens to the economy when the consumers no longer have the disposable income to consume? I think we have been seeing the effects of this strategy ever since Reaganomics. my parents and their parents were not necessarily satisfied and full-filled with their jobs, but they gave their all with a good attitude because those jobs paid a living wage with benefits. the means integrated with the end. this has to be an essential component of a successful society. corporate america has no idea how much people in their employ, including upper management are hating on them in a million subtle ways. this philosophy is slowly disintegrating our way of life that has made us a happy and healthy nation for a very long time, and eventually will mean the disintegration of our culture, which already has split in two.
Jun 13, 2013 11:51AM

SPENDTHRIFT 2010;I never wanted to trade places with people on welfare.Not all

are lazy by the way.

Jun 13, 2013 12:41PM
Lost my job last fall due to lay off.  Turned out to be a good thing.  My super hated me, but then she hated everyone before me too.  I think the reason was the boss made me a bet that I couldn't accomplish something, which I did, and I won the money.  I know she was furious about it and hated me after that.  I'm glad to be out of there.  Good riddance to the job and to her too!
Jun 13, 2013 2:55PM
My grandfather had a very middle-class job as a pants manufacturers rep to retail stores.

He had a stay-at-home wife, SEVEN kids in PRIVATE school, owned his own home, 2 cars, a boat, was a member of the local country club, and took regular vacations to Vegas.

As a successful IT professional I make far more money than he ever did and I can't come close to that lifestyle.

There's definitely a motivation problem in this country.

The standard of living is too similar now between those of us that work for a living and those that vote for a living.

Jun 13, 2013 1:03PM

10,000 Americans retire every day.How many do you suppose they are replaced with?Many

of the jobs are added onto others and part timers and temps do the rest.

Jun 13, 2013 10:50AM
Big Businesses made hollow promises to take advantage of the 20th Century prosperity boom and then reneged on it all, causing complete and total collapse by unethical untrustworthy bureaucratic and largess practices. Instead of fixing anything, excuse after excuse became the worst foundation possible. We are STILL trying to be wage earner nation instead of a free enterprise nation. Our best practice remains-- set fire to all the business platforms and let's get on with progressing into the 21st Century. America's melting pot is the finest on the globe, let's trash Tighty Whitey Legacies that reward "talents" nobody can see or validate and work for a living. 
Jun 13, 2013 3:55PM

I'm new in the US and am amazed at how poorly US employers treat their staff. They mostly offer wages that are downright offensive whilst demanding loyalty and commitment-such hypocrisy in the face of what they offer in return. Benefits are significantly below international standards, some offering none at all, no medical, no paid vacations, no sick pay - who the hell do these people think they are? This is not for me, I'll never look for work here again  - and it's their loss!!!!

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More