How to Keep the ‘Walking Dead’ Out of Your Small Business


Zombies are everywhere today—splashed across T.V. screens in the AMC hit show “The Walking Dead,” slapped on Zombie energy drinks, and hardcore enthusiasts even believe a zombie apocalypse isn’t too far off in the future.

But one unexpected place the walking dead may be among us is in the workplace, and they’re costing your business—big time.

Susie Hall, president of Vitamin T, said “walking dead” workers simply don’t fit in well with your business model or take a real interest in the company. Instead they just go through the motions day-to-day, draining company time and resources.

“They have no passion for the job, or don’t have the right skills, so they’re a fish out of water,” Hall said.

According to a survey from CareerBuilder, 41% of companies estimate a bad hire costs more than $25,000 and 25% said it cost their business more than $50,000.

These zombie workers feed off of others in the company who may also be dissatisfied or lacking some motivation, and overall they negatively impact business morale, she said.

“When someone is not motivated, or doesn’t have the skills, they tend to spend time talking to other people badmouthing the company,” Hall said. “They don’t show up, or show up late, take long lunches and make other people aware of how they feel. They spread their virus of low work ethic.”

Vitamin T also found that zombie workers can scare off up to 24% of your clients, and severance packages and potential legal ramifications can cost your company up to $39,000.

Here are some of Hall’s tips for keeping the walking dead out of your workplace.

No. 1: Freelance someone first. If you have a potential hire come in and do a test run as a part of your team, and pay them hourly, you may save yourself from hiring and training the wrong worker, Hall said.

“You can see how they perform in and among your team,” she said. “It’s all about setting the right expectations upfront and saying, ‘We like you and would like for you to do a working interview.’ It can last a week or it can last three months, but having someone come in on a freelance basis really works.”

No. 2: Train properly. As a business owner, you personally may not have the time to really train a new hire as you would like, but be sure they are getting all the tools they need to be an asset to your company. Have other senior-level workers train your new hire so he or she can hit the ground running, she said.

“Involve your staff in the plan, that will increase your chances of success with that [new] hire,” Hall said. “Give them the best you can to have them be successful.”

No. 3: Don’t skip the reference process. Hall said too many hiring managers skip over references, especially in a small-business setting. Even doing something as small as checking out a person’s LinkedIn profile to see if that applicant has references there is a good idea.

“In reality, anyone who will give you a glowing review in writing on the Internet should be worth something,” she said. “Look at what that person says and doesn’t say.”