Work Zombie: /wərk zämbē/ noun a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive in their workplace.
A staggering 70% of US employees are not engaged in the workplace. This modern day zombie apocalypse comes at a greater cost than you likely realize or even imagine. Gallup research has uncovered that the top 25% of engaged employees incur much less healthcare costs than the bottom 25% of employees. Unhappiness in the workplace directly affects employee’s health and well-being, making a zombie analogy even the more fitting. Unengaged employees not only drag down company profits, they also take an unnecessary toll on the entire healthcare industry. Also, like ‘real’ zombies, workplace zombies often infect others in the workplace, creating an epidemic of unhappiness. Yikes.
According to Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, “Of the approximately 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs, 30 million (30%) are engaged and inspired at work, so we can assume they have a great boss. At the other end of the spectrum are roughly 20 million (20%) employees who are actively disengaged. These employees, who have bosses from hell that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent. The other 50 million (50%) American workers are not engaged. They’re just kind of present, but not inspired by their work or their managers.”
True Costs of Zombies in the Workplace.
1. Zombie workers are less productive and profitable, more likely to job hop and have higher healthcare costs.
Employing workplace zombies is expensive. Not only do unengaged workers take more time off, they also are less productive and profitable overall. It doesn’t take a brain to see how these factors correlate – happy and engaged employees want to see their company succeed and go above and beyond to ensure success. Zombies on the other hand don’t see their efforts translating into any real purpose and this disenfranchisement doesn’t lead to workplace success.
2. Organizations with better engaged workers reported higher earnings.
Active employee engagement plays a major part in company profits, earnings and overall success. So the next time you wonder if the costs of employee engagement activities are actually worth the time and effort, ask yourself if you can afford to have a zombie workforce sucking up your resources? Since zombie workers can also negatively drain their engaged colleagues, it’s important to address any indication of unengagement as soon as possible.
3. Work zombies costs US companies between $450-$550 billion per year
Along with the additional costs of healthcare from actively disengaged employees, work zombies also incur additional costs from workplace theft, negatively influencing coworkers, skipping work, driving away customers, and less work output.
Combating Zombies at Work
1. Good Management is Key
Contrary to what The Walking Dead might tell you, the best weapon against zombies in the workforce is good management. In fact, executives and managers play the most critical role in ensuring their employees are fully engaged. However, with only one-third of managers reporting active engagement, it’s no surprise their direct reports are also unsatisfied. Gallup research shows that managers who focus on utilizing their employees strengths are able to double engagement.
2. Tailor Incentives for Individual Employees
Nothing turns an engaged employee into a zombie faster than forcing them to attend yet another ‘team-building’ event on a Saturday. Although this may be engaging to some, it might disenfranchise others. Finding out what excites and engages an employee can help prevent them from becoming a workplace zombie. Wondering what perks work and what doesn’t? Experts share their tips on the best perks for happy and engaged employees.
What gets you engaged at work? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
-Elizabeth Becker, Client Partner and Marketing Manager at IT Staffing Firm PROTECH. Looking for an engaging job or new (non-zombie) hire? You can reach me at 561-953-8800 ext 227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.