You’re working late on a cold, dark Wednesday night when it happens. As you pull some files in a deserted hallway, you hear slow, heavy footsteps coming towards you. When you turn to confront the creature, you see nothing but dead eyes and a vacant, hopeless expression. It’s...it’s...Bob from Accounting?
Oh no! You have a zombie employee.
Zombie employees, an increasingly common scourge infecting workplaces, are recognizable to most of us in management. A “zombie” is an apathetic, unmotivated employee who feels unrecognized, unappreciated, and disengaged from his or her work....and it shows. Zombies are no fun to work with, and they can cost your company a lot of money. They take more sick days, quit more often, and infect other employees with their doom, gloom, and bad attitude, which leads to lower productivity of the entire team. Their “walking dead” behavior can scare away new customers and turn off those you’ve already established.
But if you choose to cut your zombie loose, you’re facing the costs of recruiting, hiring, and training all over again. What is more, you never know if the employee you hire doesn't become apathetic and burnout as well. What should a good manager do?
Rehabilitate! It’s not too late to get your zombie out of those ragged, moldy duds and back among the living. With those 6 tips, you’ll soon find your zombies waltzing into work with a spring in their step and a sparkle in their eyes.
Step 1: Compliment your zombie
The majority of employees all around the world feel underappreciated in the workplace, and there’s no doubt that this is a major contributor to burnout and zombification. Specific, frequent praise will go a long way towards bringing your zombie back to life. Remember not to be vague however. Choose something your employee indeed does well and focus on it.
Step 2: Communicate with your zombie
Is your zombie currently speaking only in grunts, moans, and unintelligible mumbling? Perhaps they’ve given up on the joy of speech due to uninspiring or frustrating experiences with you, their team, or their supervisors. Make sure your problematic employee knows what is expected of him or her, and ask for feedback on his or her position and roles. Once your zombie begins to speak in complete sentences again, you’re well on the way to a more human employee.
Step 3: Give your zombies what they need
Could your workplace be breeding zombies by sucking the life out of its employees? Take an honest look at what you are giving back. If zombie fever is sweeping through your workplace, you may not be rewarding your employees adequately for their hard work. It could be as simple as providing the right supplies, better software, or desk set-ups...or maybe your zombies are hungry for better pay or benefits.
Step 4: Incentivize that zombie!
You might think of zombies as unmotivated, but sometimes they just need an exciting goal (no, not other employees’ brains). If moaning, zoned-out zombies are a problem for you, it may be time to wake things up by offering a getaway, office event, cash bonus, or other fun event. On the other hand, a new, challenging and difficult task may have similar if not better results. It is sad but true that many employees become bored and burnt out simply because of the repetitive and mundane tasks they are given. Try to change it by offering something new.
Step 5: Ask your zombie why he or she is undead.
Sometimes, you need your zombie to tell you just how he or she turned from a productive employee into a creature of darkness. While this might be hard for you to hear, it could be essential to solving the problem and getting your zombie back on the right track.
Step 6: Consider fortifying so zombies can’t get in!
Okay, so this one doesn’t help with the zombies you already have. But to prevent future invasions, you may want to consider making more of your workforce freelance or trying out more temp-to-hire positions. That way, you won’t be committed to keeping those undead employees around. Another potential solution is more careful hiring and reference checking. Though this may seem exhausting upfront, it can save you a lot of time fighting the forces of darkness later.
So there you have it—6 simple ways to get your zombie employees back into the land of productive, useful employment. Hopefully this guide will help you rid your workplace of zombie infection, bring your employees back to life, and get everyone contributing once again.
Carol Williams, orangesonline.com