8% of Workers Are Prisoners at Their Companies

Douglas A. McIntyre

Some 8% of workers worldwide consider themselves “prisoners” at their own companies. Fortunately for employers, these people have been with their companies a long time and are unlikely to leave.

According to a study by Aon:

These employees who intend to stay with the organization despite being disengaged are who we refer to as “Workforce Prisoners.” They lack the motivation to give their best and have no intention of leaving.


These employees represent about 8% of the global workforce. That may not seem like a lot, but consider this: in an organization of 50,000 that means that there are, on average, about 4,000 Prisoners. That’s 4,000 employees who are keeping you from achieving your goals.

Most of these people are so-called lifers:

Someone who has worked at an organization less than a year has approximately a six-percent chance of being a Prisoner. In the one to two year tenure category, the incidence rate increases to 6.3% and climbs in each subsequent tenure category until it reaches a stunning high of 17.1% for the 26+ year category.

What can their bosses do?

If the Prisoner can’t get excited about these topics, then a more difficult conversation has to happen. As mentioned above, the longer someone stays with an organization, the more likely they are to become a Prisoner. Remember that not everyone is willing to be engaged. If that is the case, begin discussions around whether or not this role is the right fit for them or if another job would be better. These can be difficult conversations to have, but are important for both you and the Prisoner in the long term.

Being fired is better in the long term?