31 May 2022

6 Reasons Why Your Employees Might Be Zombies (And How You Can Cure Them)


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Employee engagement Leadership and management


Halloween is fast approaching and maybe it’s something in the air, but have you noticed anything unsettling in your office lately? Are some of your employees acting lethargic, distant, nonsensical, not unlike zombies?! It could be caused by one of the reasons below and it’s slowly infecting productivity, communication and morale. Don’t worry though, there’s a cure (for all but one!).

1. The ‘Lack of engagement zombie’

lack of engagementEmployees who don’t feel appreciated or valued will become distant, suffer from poor morale and generally not enjoy being in the office.
Making time to engage and show your appreciation for your workforce will lead to greater engagement, improved retention and increased productivity.

In a Harvard Business Review survey it was found that 72% of respondents ranked recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement, while only 24% of respondents said employees in their organisation were highly engaged.

That leaves a great deal of room for improvement and opportunity to avoid an disengaged zombie apocalypse in your office!

2. The ‘Lack of sleep zombie’

It’s very easy to neglect your sleeping routine when you’re busy at work during the day and trying to fit in a social life in the evenings. The effects of sleep deprivation are many and varied, they include:

  • Impaired attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving
  • Feelings of depression –  In a 2005 survey, people who were diagnosed with depression (or anxiety) were more likely to get less than six hours sleep at night
  • Increased fatigue and irritability will affect morale, collaboration and the general mood within an office environment
  • Reduced immune system efficiency, which can lead to employees becoming ill, increasing absence and infections throughout the workforce

sleep zombieVitality Health commissioned Rand Europe and the University of Cambridge to study factors that affect workers’ productivity. It was found that those employees who slept for six hours or less a night were significantly less productive than those who slept for seven or eight. These employees were suffering from ‘presenteeism’, a term used to describe individuals that attend work, but are unproductive due to sleep deprivation.

Tackling these sleep zombies should be priority in order to avoid absenteeism and drops in productivity and motivation.
Flexible working is one way that it may be possible to counteract the causes of sleep deprivation, by allowing employees to work during their most productive hours.

3. The ‘Poor diet zombie’

Poor workplace diet can cause up to a 20% loss in productivity. Simply not eating right is bad for wellbeing and can affect an employee’s mood and concentration.

junk food zombieNot starting the day right with a balanced and nutritious breakfast can leave individuals moody, disengaged and distant. Too much sugar in a diet and people find it hard to concentrate and become restless, roaming around the office erratically.

When we’re tired after a busy morning it’s the more unhealthy options that have the biggest pull. Fast food and pre-prepared meals are appealing, but won’t offer the best nutritional value.
Unhealthy lunches are usually cheaper and faster than healthy alternatives too, making them harder to resist in the middle of a busy workday. They may feel like they’re doing us good, but the result is weaker performance the rest of the day.

Think before you buy lunch, have some self control and stick to the healthy and sensible lunch options to avoid becoming a zombie.

4. The ‘Huge commute zombie’

travel zombieEmployees who have long and arduous commutes to work will suffer from fatigue and find it difficult to motivate themselves if they’ve already had a stressful journey into the office.
They may be too stressed to speak to others on particularly bad days and instead decide to block out the office until they’ve calmed down.

Offering employees the ability to telecommute avoids the stresses and strains of certain commutes, and leaves them calm and ready for the day ahead.

5. The ‘Over stretched zombie’

stressedAre any of your employees simply over stretched with a huge workload? It’s important to remain engaged with everyone in the organisation to ensure that no one’s struggling with their responsibilities on a regular basis.
Monthly or weekly reviews, even for 10 minutes, can be the difference between a happy and productive employee and one who has turned into a withdrawn zombie due to paranoia regarding deadlines and milestones.

Ensuring that employees are encouraged to communicate and collaborate on tasks will also help to alleviate the burden on individuals. By sharing workloads and having the confidence that help is easily accessible, employees will feel more confident and happier to take on challenges and work towards goals as a team.

6. They are, in fact, ‘The Undead’

It may just be that your colleague or employee is indeed a Zombie. No form of leadership training will equip you for this.