Zombie Outbreak

Zombies have enjoyed a steady presence in media over the last decade. It’s not hard to understand why. Their presence almost always cues a grand narrative of grit and guts, with the gloss of supernatural romanticism and super-cool CG. And so we go through great lengths to read books, watch movies, and play video games to interact with the undead. But if we took a step back, we should realize we don’t have to exercise our imagination so much. We interact with zombies more often than we think. In fact, you’ve probably worked with one recently.
They come to work dragging their feet and type away at their computers with a dead look in their eyes. The only time they become animated is during lunch or water cooler gossip breaks. Most of them don’t even bother actively hating their job anymore and accept the boredom, the drag with a numb, mute acceptance. A few of them actively cannibalize their coworker’s hopes and positivity.

“You don’t have to work that hard.” “You’re too try-hard.” “That’ll never work.” “Please be more practical.”

It’s tempting to blame it on the individual (zombie?). It’s his fault he isn’t passionate about his work. It’s his fault he’s locked himself into a dead-end job. But if you take a look at the statistics, you’ll realize being an office zombie is the norm rather than the exception.

According to Gallup’s annual survey, only 31.5% of American employees reported being actively engaged in their job. If you expand it beyond America, only 13% of the world’s workforce report being are engaged employees.

The data heavily suggests that the problem is systemic. We need to acknowledge that employees are not robots, who will consistently do “x” with input “y”. And even robots need regular maintenance; your employees need regular attention and strategy just as much as any other corporate problem.

Do you have an employee engagement strategy in place? Or are you suffering from a zombie plague?