NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's not that employers don't want their employees to bring mobile devices to work -- they just don't want them to pay for them.

About half of the companies where workers use their own phones provide partial reimbursement for them, according to a study last year from Gartner, while 38% of companies that provide cellphones to employees now plan to stop doing so by 2017.

According to the 2014 Employee Communications Satisfaction Survey from theCOMMSapp, a communication applications provider, 66% of employees who pay for their own phone say they use them regularly for work purposes.

Meanwhile, companies that build pricey corporate intranets or big social media operations aren't getting much bang for their buck from employee mobile users. According to the survey:

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  • 82% of workers whose companies have an Intranet said they either have never tried to use it with their mobile device or find it difficult.
  • The same goes for 78% of workers whose companies have social collaboration networks.
  • 65% say that how their employer communicates with them affects their job satisfaction.

In arguing for the need for his company in the marketplace, Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of theCOMMSapp, points to a recent Gallup survey showing 70% of the workforce say they "are not engaged in their jobs" -- a syndrome that costs U.S. businesses $550 billion every year.

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By not engaging workers with smartphones -- only 29% of workers say their companies use apps to communicate -- companies are missing a big opportunity, Corbin argues.

"The mobile device enables something that until recently did not exist -- the ability to connect and communicate directly and instantaneously with a targeted audience," Corbin says. "Employees are one, if not the most important audiences of any company or organization. The mobile device presents an immediate solution for employers to connect with and directly engage with this audience."

Another revealing piece of data: 53% of workers spend most of their day at their desk, Corbin says. The rest are out at branch offices, on client sites, at conferences or working at home. Those are the staffers companies need to reach, and a mobile phone is a great way to do that.

If, that is, companies and clients can agree who gets a phone, who pays for it and how best to use it.