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When Employees Become the Walking Dead


Breath new life into your employees.

In a past life I worked the graveyard shift, loading freight into aircraft shipping containers. It was a hard brutal shift, one that went from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The employee parking lot was about half a mile or so from the entrance, so the company ran buses, shuttling the employees to the building. Onboard these buses the mood was quiet and depressed, like mourners on their way to to a funeral. And who could blame them? A five-hour shift lasting until three in the morning could suck the life out of anybody. One might therefore assume that, on the bus ride back to the parking lot, everyone would be like corpses, right? You’d be forgiven for thinking that, but you’d be wrong—way wrong. You’ve never seen a more energetic raucous crowd in your life! Five hours ago these guys were the walking dead. Now, after a night of hard mindless manual labor, just barely beating the sun, they’re whooping and hollering like they’re at an Oingo Boingo Halloween concert. How could this be? Simply put, physical exhaustion and long hours have nothing to do with employee engagement. If someone is interested in what lays before them then it won’t matter how late into the witching hour they work, or how dead tired they may be. Likewise, if someone has zero interest in the activity then you can’t buy passionate engagement.

There’s a horrible virus out there that’s turning us and our employees into zombies, and it’s called Mondayitis. But unlike other infections like the Rage or Solanum viruses, this one is curable. Here are five sure-fire ways to eradicate this insidious disease:

Build their competencies—as well as their confidence in their competencies.

There’s nothing like having a skill that’s valued and appreciated. It helps us establish our role and identity in the organization.

Give them the autonomy to use these competencies on projects that have purpose and meaning for them.

When you give people the room to do that voodoo that they do so well on something that matters to them, there’s no measure to the passion they’ll bring to the party.

Enable them to accomplish both short-term as well as long term goals.

Short-term goals give us the confidence and motivation to go after the larger, more difficult long-term goals.

Give them opportunities to build meaningful relationships with others, making them part of a team that together can do great things.

We are by nature social creatures that have evolved and survived thanks to our ability to relate with others, build lasting bonds, and collaborate. This practice also helps to reinforce our confidence in ourselves and our competencies.

Reward them in a way that has meaning to them.

Every action is taken for a purpose, so when that purpose has value and meaning to us, our actions will be all the more inspired.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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