The implications of the following numbers are staggering; should scare the pants off everyone in a leadership position and be reason to dramatically change the way they run their business.

Ponder the following sobering facts:

There are 127 million people working fulltime in the US and unemployment is at the lowest rate in 17 years at around 6.5 million people.

But, there are also 6.5 million job openings, so theoretically unemployment should be zero if people were willing to accept an available job.

Here’s where the numbers become frightening.

According to the latest Gallup Poll of the American Workplace 52% of American workers are disengaged from their job and another 17% are actively disengaged which means that only 32% of American workers describe themselves as being actively engaged in their job.  That means that of the 127 million people working in the US only 40 million are productively pulling their weight.

According to the Gallup study, and even more shocking, is the fact that 51% of American workers – I’m not making this stuff up – are looking for another opportunity somewhere else and less than half of all workers would recommend the business where they work to a friend.

Put those numbers together and there’s no question that, unless something BIG happens, the single biggest challenge to every business is and will continue to be the dollar draining exercise of constantly being in recruitment mode.    

How to Fix It the Conundrum

Along comes another study, this one from NORC, the research institution of the University of Chicago, and funded by Hedge Fund superstar, Paul Tudor Jones, the founder of Just Capital, a group that measures the justness of American enterprises. Inside the report are the answers.

For the study, 10,000 American workers were asked what their companies top priorities should be.

33% said workers should be the top priority, 19% said customers, 17% responded that the top priority should be the quality of their products, 13% said the priority should be to treat the environment responsibly and 11% said it should be having positive interactions with their communities. People want to work for businesses that do well by doing good.

An interesting sidebar to the study were the respondent’s criticisms of their companies attempts to put on a good face through efforts that cost them nothing. An example would be Toys R Us and CVS’s constant harangues at checkout to donate to one charity or another and when cashiers and managers are pressed as to how much money each company is ponying up for the cause, being met with a dumfounded look and a murmured, “they don’t tell us that.” 

Again, hard data proves that workers want to work for Purpose driven enterprises that act in a just manner with all their constituencies; employees, customers, venders and suppliers, shareholders and the planet.

With corporate profits higher than they’ve ever been and equity markets at all-time high, it’s time for every business leader (who wants to stay relevant) to take down the ridiculous banners and posters proclaiming, ‘Now Hiring’ and, ‘Help Wanted,’ and, instead, start transforming their business into a purpose driven enterprise and begin paying people a living wage and providing them the same path to upward mobility they desire for themselves. That’s the only way that customers will be well served, that workers will care about the quality of the services and products offered and an engaged workforce will stand in line to treat the environment well and serve communities where they can afford to live.

Want more proof? As a final poke in the eye, the Gallup poll also reveals that purpose and mission driven companies have engagement scores that average north of 70% instead of the paltry 32% at most companies.   

Jason Jennings is the NY Times, WSJ and USA TODAY bestselling author of eight books on leadership, reinvention, growth, speed, innovation and productivity, including, The Reinventors, available in hardcover, eBook and audio and has been called one of the three most in-demand business speakers in the world) .      

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