Executive Careers Blog

Are Your Employees Checked Out?

It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your employees are? Or what they're up to?

L. Lefkowitz | Getty Images

According to a new report by HR consultancy Mercer, there's a 50 percent chance that any given employee is either checked out or looking to leave.

Which means if they're not at their desk, they might be off interviewing with the competition.

And if they are at their desk, they might not be doing anything anyway.

According to the report "Nearly one in three (32%) US workers is seriously considering leaving his or her organization at the present time, up sharply from 23% in 2005. Meanwhile, another 21% are not looking to leave but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement, a term that describes a combination of an employee's loyalty, commitment and motivation."

So what’s going on?

The obvious answers all relate to the economy. Many employees feel that they're still bearing the brunt of the recession, even as things have settled and a (tepid) recovery has taken hold. Anyone making the same or less than they were three years ago, for example, is likely to be feeling pretty unhappy right about now—especially if they took on extra work.

Additionally, the Mercer report points to cuts in benefit programs and retirement contributions as significant factors in the downturn in employee satisfaction, while "scores for career development and performance management remain low. Just 42% of employees today agree that promotions go to the most qualified employees in their organization, up from 29% in 2005, and 46% agree that their organization does an adequate job of matching pay to performance, up from 33%."

The solutions for employers, then, should be obvious. According to a Mercer Senior Partner, "Employees see a 'disconnect' between what employers are promising and what they are delivering […] Organizations should re-examine their deals—both the traditional and non-traditional elements—then support them with effective administration and consistent, authentic communication that fosters a sense of belonging and helps employees make better rewards choices and career decisions."

The bottom line: even in an employer's market, employees aren't happy simply having a job.

Phil Stott is a Producer at Vault.com, where he covers anything related to jobs, career advice and the economy for Vault's Careers Blog. Originally from Scotland, he has lived and worked in Eastern Europe, Asia and the U.S., in fields including consumer banking, education, journalism and … bowling. He currently resides in New York. Comments?  Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com