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How to Prevent a Zombie Apocalypse at Work

How to Prevent a Zombie Apocalypse at Work

You do not want this to happen — a zombie apocalypse at work. If one employee becomes infected, the virus will quickly spread until most of your workforce shows little cognizant signs of life although they somehow drag themselves to work.

Once infected, employee-zombies zone out and stop being productive members of your workforce. A good sign they are zombified is when they begin wandering around the office without a purpose and grumbling to themselves. The lights are not on and nobody is at home. It’s like they’re in a coma and pretending to work while in their cubicle.

What happens when an employee-zombie snaps at a coworker and takes a bite out of them? You have another zombie. These disgruntled zombies like to spread their misery and see productive, happy employees as Lay’s Potato Chips; “No one can eat just one.”

Without strong leadership intervention, this oozing apocalyptic quagmire can lead to the destruction of your company. Okay, so zombies are not real, but disengaged employees are real.  Yet, costly employee disengagement is the American workplace’s horror story.

According to the Gallup Organization’s most recent “State of the American Workplace” research study:

  • 30% of employees are actively engaged
  • 50% of employees are not engaged 
  • 20% are actively disengaged

Gallup estimates this active disengagement problem is costing American companies $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity. It is a serious problem and Gallup’s research had determined it is directly tied to hiring the wrong managers. Specifically, managers who do not consider positive employee relations a top priority.

5 Signs of a Zombie Apocalypse at Work

#1 Hostility – Corporate-wide rise of underlying hostility among employees.

#2 Targeting – Hostile employees begin to target good employees to convince them the company does not have their best interest at heart. This may not be hard if the company’s culture is toxic.

#3 Denial – The CEO refuses to believe HR’s assessment that an uprising is brewing.

#4 Crisis Mode – Outbreak becomes an exponentially growing crisis as active disengagement overwhelms normal HR strategies.

#5 Turnover – When a ship starts taking on water, passengers begin jumping onto life boats. That is true with poorly managed companies allow their culture to sink into shark-infested waters where every employee must fight for themselves.

5 Ways to Prevent a Zombie Apocalypse at Work

#1 Recognize the Symptoms – You can identify a disengaged workplace by their behavior, including moaning about projects, slow walking assignments, inability to focus and/or visible disgust from continual micromanagement. Management must be willing to face the hard facts and make positive changes.

#2 Focus on Your People – Active disengagement is caused by top leadership’s complete disregard for important people issues. Most leaders do not want to hear this advice but it is true. Focused on operational and financial concerns only, a CEO and her leadership team typically avoid people-related issues.

#3 The Cascade Effect – When executives, managers and supervisors observe that the CEO does not care for people, they will focus only on short-term corporate earnings, their own stock options, perks and incentive plans. Hold leaders accountable for their area’s employee engagement. Make this metric a major part of their incentive plan calculation.

 #4 CEO Intervention – Just like wildfires, prevention is key. One must first begin at the top with a CEO who will adopt and live by the essentials of the Great Workplace model.   
#5 Culture of Trust – Create a culture where everyone is treated with trust, dignity and respect. This behavior must be fully adopted and modeled by every single member of the leadership team first.

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We recommend you download and read Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace study.
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Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


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