In baseball, someone always bats ninth. Although long considered the spot where the team's weakest hitter resides, no manager would leave the position vacant and settle for an automatic out.

Yet, businesses do this every day. It's called the "empty desk syndrome." An employee departs, and no plan exists for filling the desk. And more often than not, it isn't the No. 9 hitter who's left, but someone in the heart of the company's batting order.

Without quantification of its economic cost, the empty desk syndrome is tolerated, sometimes even encouraged, by management. Now comes a study from online job resource Indeed that puts a number on unreplaced departed employees — and it's a number too big to be ignored.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.