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Zombies in the Workplace

Well, there continues to be an issue with employees transforming into zombies within the workforce because of increases in dissatisfaction and disengagement. According to recent survey results conducted by The Conference Board and the Gallup, US employees are both dissatisfied and disengaged in the workforce. The Conference Board 2015 Jobs Satisfaction Survey only determined that only 48.5% of US employees are satisfied with their jobs. Gallup suggested that there are an estimated 32% of employees that are engaged on the job, and that number decreases 28.9% for millennials. Findings from Linkedin’s survey also demonstrates that a majority of the workers chose to seek out new employment because of issues related to dissatisfaction and disengagement. The results suggest that organizations are dealing with a significant problem that could negatively impact how they will perform within the competitive market. (image below from Linkedin Survey)

#Disengagement can lead to negative consequences such as increased turnover, lack of commitment, poor health, and lower employee outcome performance (work results). These factors are also troublesome for employees because dissatisfaction and disengagement can also negatively impact their professional growth and future success. Understanding why an employee is dissatisfied is a major issue that must be understood because satisfaction is linked to how engaged an employee will be on the job. Specifically, employee engagement can be described as how satisfied and emotionally connected an employee is towards their obligations and the success of their employer. Employees that are engaged are more productive, innovative, willing to learn more, and take pride in their work; allowing for employers to maintain a competitive advantage.

It is essential to understand what factors are determinants of a disengaged employee. Research conducted by Anitha (2014) suggested that #engagement is a predictor of employee performance. The more engaged an employee is, the more likely they will perform competently and effectively on the job. Based on the research findings of Anitha (2014) to predict employee on job performance these areas must be evaluated to understand why there is a break down in performance:

  • Work environment

  • Team and co-worker relationships

  • Workplace well-being

  • Leadership

Jim Clifton Chairman and CEO of Gallup also indicates that it is vital to ensure that employees hired have the required strengths to perform competently on the job. He explained that 82% of the time many organizations hire managers that lack the strength to lead and maximize the potential of employees. These statistical factors justify that there is a real issue within organizations when it comes to ensuring that employees hired have the strengths that are needed to perform competently on the job to ensure that employees’ needs are supported within the work environment. These facts show the importance of a healthy, comfortable, and pleasant work environment that provides support and the opportunity to relate and communicate with others interpersonally. It is also important to consider other environmental factors that have been found to have an impact on employee satisfaction and engagement:

  • Training and Career Development Opportunities

  • Compensation (lack of incentive/desired increase)

  • Organizational Policies

  • Opportunities to utilize strengths and challenging work

  • Job security

  • Employees unable to use strengths on the job

  • Lack of opportunity for advancement

Regardless of the root cause employees must be their own leader in dealing with their well-being to ensure that they are able to thrive on the job.  In order to be effective on the job and prevent zombie behavior that is consistent with going through the motions and continuously languishing performance employees must:

  • Determine ways to reduce stress within their personal and professional life.

  • Understand their strengths and how they can use them on the job (taking on new projects) or outside of their current employment (i.e. volunteering, start a business, create a blog, seek new employment, etc.).

  • Develop a plan based on their professional goals and determine ways that they can be achieved.

  • Determine ways to enhance and develop their strength(s) and areas of interest to increase chances of advancement and opportunities within an area(s) of interest (i.e. continuing college education,, YouTube, mass open online course/MOOC such as edX, Coursera, Udacity).

  • Understand the best way for them to work effectively and utilize new techniques (i.e. building relationships, staying organized, expressing needs to colleagues, etc.) to enhance the work environment


Abraham, S. (2012). Job satisfaction as an antecedent to employee engagement. SIES Journal of Management, 8(2), 27.

Anitha, J. (2014). Determinants of employee engagement and their impact on employee performance. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 63(3), 308-323.

Cheng, B., Levann, G., & Ray, R. (2015). Job satisfaction: 2015 edition: A lot more jobs- A little more satisfaction. Retrieved from The Conference Board website:

Clifton, J. (2015, April 16). Workplaces aren’t creating high well-being [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Linkedin (2015). Job seeker trends: Why & how people change jobs. Retrieved from

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