Research Outline

Knowledge workers Research


To provide supporting data that shows dissatisfaction among knowledge workers--specifically dissatisfaction due to leaders, disengagement, performance reviews and underutilization of their potential.

Early Findings

Workers Feel Underutilized and Disengaged

  • According to the latest survey of U.S. and U.K. workers published on February 28, 2020, respondents use only 38% of their knowledge at work.
  • The survey also finds that more than 60% of workers have difficulty getting the information needed to fulfill their jobs. As a result, knowledge workers spend 26 days each year to search for information, knowledge and expertise.
  • Furthermore, 61% say they could contribute more to their jobs but they do not know how, and 90% say they want "more opportunities to share their knowledge and expertise."
  • According to Chron, one of the reasons for employee dissatisfaction is disengagement, with only 30% of workers in the United States report "feeling engaged and motivated at work."
  • While a 2018 Gallup Poll shows an increase in workers reporting active engagement (up to 34%) and a decrease in active disengagement (13%), this still leaves the rest (53%) of workers not actively engaged in their work.
  • "Disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses $450-$550 billion in lost productivity annually," according to a report by Rapt Media.
  • Additionally, it also finds that 57% of employees "feel their leaders are detached from the workforce."
  • Globally, the number of disengaged workers is even more troubling, with only 15% of workers saying they are engaged at work--leaving 85% of workers not engaged.
  • Over the years, studies have found that workers "who derive meaning from their work are 1.4 times more engaged." According to research by Emplify, organizations with mostly desk-bound knowledge workers have 5% lower in what they call "meaning" score. This suggests that some knowledge workers are likely even more disengaged than general workers.


The initial research has identified a number of statistics pointing to worker dissatisfaction due to underutilization and disengagement. Although it is not always possible to separate the statistics specifically for knowledge workers, a combination of different research studies points to the possibility of knowledge workers being even more dissatisfied. With more research, we can further identify additional statistics on other factors such as leadership and performance reviews, and find additional statistics that may used to suggest dissatisfaction among knowledge workers specifically.