Are Corporate Zombies slowly killing your business?


As my daughters place the Halloween decorations up and I see the joy and engagement they have with the bats, spiders and creepy decorations and we await small Zombies to approach our house to devour our candy resources, it really makes me think about the parallels between Halloween and the corporate world.

How engagement, purpose, team work and enjoyment in what you are doing is not so dissimilar to anything in life you partake in vs something you have no interest in or no conviction to follow through on anymore.

This is the topic I wanted to cover around the corporate world of Zombie employees and employers having lost that engagement and empathy due to their Zombie like state of mind.

Today we see many organisations driving teams and managers to collaborate, work smarter, have additional soft skills and the capability to focus on being resilient in times of change and uncertainty within the corporate world.

But are they truly allowing individuals to have a voice and showcase these individual strengths within the work place?

Measuring or understanding the level of commitment and engagement from employees is a critical part of any company or individual’s success but is not being implemented as a standard best practice within growing organisations or SME Brands.

Corporate Zombies could truly be draining your resources and having a negative effect on your profits and existing teams without you even realising it.

The corporate Zombie has varied forms, two of which I will focus on today. Firstly, the over ambitious zombie leader, the go getter that is wanting only to focus on their individual climb to success or bonus. Braindead to their surroundings, the culture and people around them. Standing on top of people in order to reach the management circle of trust.

Working late and over weekends, emailing at 3am to prove they are on the radar but actually this behaviour is not sustainable. Burnout and counter productivity creeps into play, making them braindead to employee interactions. Causing fatigue and stress due to work pressure and a lack of work life balance which impacts on the individual’s performance, team and ultimately the business results.

Secondly, the Corporate Zombie employee, this individual who has lost absolute belief in the company, its vision and its management, an individual who really is just going through the motions. They feel trapped and angry, or even worse, increased resentment due to lack of direction, reward, acknowledgement or opportunities.

They did not become like this overnight but now have the zombie virus of negativity and are ready to spread it to new starters or teams.

The typical tell tail signs of a Zombie employee –

  • Spreading the virus of negativity at every opportunity.
  • Only doing what they see as being part of their job description and nothing more.
  • Pushing back deadlines and blaming others for not providing the information needed.
  • Always putting new ideas down and saying: “that it will never work here”.
  • Complaining about new processes and procedures and bringing scepticism to any change project.
  • Gossiping or making sure everyone knows how crap it is at their place of work.
  • Clock watching, continuous coffee and vaping breaks before lunchtime has even begun.

Maybe in the beginning they had the passion and enthusiasm but slowly it was drained from them due to the lack of culture or clear direction. Their key belief is now “not to stick your head above the line, in case you lose it during transformational periods”.

Many organisations have these Zombie employees, but who has infected who?

Is it the employee or employer that is guilty of creating such Zombie like creatures in the workplace?

Having reviewed many varied corporate environments, I put it down to 3 key factors:

  1. Culture

Company culture is the key for me. If you are valued and the culture is one which believes in people first, has clear vison and everyone in the company believes in the Brand purpose and direction, it makes for engaged employees. If encouraged to bring their individual strengths and qualities to the team, the Zombie effect is minimised, and a culture of accountability and team collaboration wins.


  1. Just not in the right job or unable to embrace the change.

Employees that are just not in the right job need to move across or out for the benefit of all.

Staff who have been with the company for many years, who hate the change or are unable to embrace the change moving forward, is a common concern.


  1. Measurement and creation of authentic action plans

To many times we see a short questionnaire being sent around the company each year with typical corporate questions, having the reverse effect on the morale and showcasing what the management want to hear. Not really listening at ground level to what is being said, or actually not said, in the organisation.


In order to find the cure for your employees or employers Zombie culture, you need to build the antidote:

  • Be honest and open.
  • Ask the tough questions and take the tough actions.
  • Create a culture and a measured action plan of change to deliver authentic results.
  • Build an environment for individuals and teams to contribute, be held accountable and feel valued.
  • Stop the internal politics or internal pleasing virus.
  • Provide Clear direction with Roles & Responsibilities, uncertainty creates a Zombie apocalypse.
  • Provide a coaching culture
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If you can relate to the above topic or you personally know of a Zombie employee or employer that needs a cure fast, we can help.

Through our Fresh lab workshops and facilitation sessions we custom build workshops for our clients’ needs, challenges and industry pain points.

Our Corporate Zombie Workshop is a must to re-engage with your staff and drive your company forward with tracked results and a committed team.

Find out more about our Fresh Lab workshops on our site or send us a mail through our contact form.