Stop Untrained Zombie Employees Killing Your Successful Recruitment Process

“FEAR, that deadliest of all emotions clutching at your heart…”
Night of the Living Dead – 1968 independent film.

This is how the tale of the Terror begins.

First contact: They wow you during the recruitment process with their strong desire to join your business. Brimming with relevant skills and smart ideas to enhance your customers’ experience, they are the perfect fit.

Month 1 on the job: They impress you by jumping straight in demonstrating their self-starter credentials like pros. Hungry to learn the ropes they busy themselves with figuring out how things work.

You thank your lucky stars because you don’t have the time to train them right now. You are crazy busy! After all, this the reason why you hired them.

Month 2 on the job: They arrive to work on time every day. They just sit there – eyes dull, energy zapped beings sucking productivity and profits from your business as if it were a brain smoothie.

You are seriously disturbed. You notice that they are not even trying to look busy anymore. You swear they are spending more time on their own social media than on your business.

You feel paranoia creeping up your spine, steadily making its to your brain. “What are they thinking? What are they sharing – and with whom?” Is it with Glassdoor?

Your customers are starting to complain that the service isn’t what it used to be.

  • Promises are not being kept
  • Service glitches are popping up everywhere
  • Your employees don’t seem to know what is going on
  • The peppy and prompt customer experience is no longer being felt.

You ask yourself what has happened to your plucky go-getter new employees.

WARNING! You have Untrained Zombie Employees in your business. Zombie employees start life as lively warm-blooded engaged human employees. Lack of training turns them into vacant-eyed tribe members of the ‘Working Dead’.

You are in danger of incurring a budget-busting, recklessly-ruinous hiring mistake.

If left untreated it will sweep through your organisation, infecting other employees, scaring away your hard-won customers and eat through your profits and brand reputation.

This virulent virus of disengagement is highly contagious. You need to take curative action now!

Here’s How You Can Fight Back Before It's Too Late


1. Being too busy to prepare your (new) employee for success and maximum engagement.

2. Killing your opportunity to increase your productivity.

3. Believing training to be a cost (your time and money) instead of an investment in your employee and business.

4. Taking Short-cuts in immediate post-hire training.


1. Following the #1 horror movie survival tip. NEVER take a short-cut through the woods, graveyard, back road, abandoned building in the hopes of saving time or keeping yourself safe from the horror chasing you.

You know that taking the short-cut is almost always a fatal mistake that ends badly. Somebody will literally be ‘cut’ ‘short’.

Well folks, you get the same chilling result in your business when you ignore or take short-cuts with your employee induction (orientation) and early post-hire training.

Employee training is positively NOT the place to take short-cuts. As sure as night follows day;

  • You will be leaving yourself exposed to emotional, reputational and financial pain.
  • You will be leaving your business and customers at the mercy of the Untrained Zombie Employees.

2. Investing in the BIG WHY. Aim straight for the heart and the head when defending your organisation against the attack of the Working Dead zombies. You must communicate your business’ purpose with feeling. You need to make it explicitly clear how and why your employees’ work is important to the success of the business. Yes, I’m taking about mission and vision!

Every employee needs to feel and know that they are doing work that matters, makes a difference and that their contribution adds value to the business. When you inject their work with genuine meaning, you increase the chances of fulfilling your business’ purpose AND their personal aspirations.

Employees who are engaged and locked in to the business purpose, create a tangible positive uplift in their interactions with each other and their/your customers.

Growing a learning culture and training your employees are activities to which you need to pay constant attention if you and your business are to survive and thrive.

3. Feeding the hunger (to learn). When you feed this hunger you are boosting your employees’ professional development and your business’ growth too.

Focus on creating learning opportunities and stress less about training. Exploit the difference between learning and training to your advantage. It is this difference that can help ease the squeeze on your time and finances.

Google “What is the difference between learning and training?” and you will get a whopping 165,000,000 results. For speed, here is my in-a-nutshell definition.

  • Training is a a transfer knowledge, skills and/or way of thinking via planned event or programme delivered to you.
  • Learning is a a transfer of knowledge, skills and/or way of thinking via a process of (self) discovery by absorbing what you see, hear and do.

With HR budgets increasingly being canabalised by our friends in Finance, the savvy Recruiter/HR focuses on optimising opportunities for ‘experiential’ learning and makes plans and budget provision for training.

Proactively create learning opportunities for your employees and build the foundation for a learning culture. Mindfully set the tone for independent learning, knowledge sharing, openly learning from mistakes, the freedom to implement solutions and cross-discipline collaboration.

You will still need to follow-up on lessons learned frequently. This will help you ensure that the depth of the learning, the quality of the work output and level of transformation are of value and to the standard needed by the business.

As you create learning experiences for your employees, apply the wisdom of Confucius, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

When your employees understand and embrace what they need to do, they will do more (quantity) and better (quality). This will have a positive impact on the productivity levels in your business.


You now know how to tame the Terror – vanquish the Working-Dead, cure Untrained Employee Zombies and protect your business against the Untrained Zombie contagion. You’ve got this covered!

So savvy HR / Recruiter what are your smart tips to save your recruitment process and protect your organisation against ‘Working Dead’ ?

Happy Halloween!

This Halloween Special article for the Recruiting Blogs community has been created by blatantly canabalising and sucking the life-blood out of an original blog post from The HR Rabbit Hole published 12th October 2015 - Part 4 of 5: Smart Strategies Used by Savvy Independent Entrepreneurs to Build Wildly Successful Businesses.
It was then put back together Frankenstein style and given a few thousand jolts of volts.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd

Views: 354

Comment by Katrina Kibben on November 2, 2015 at 11:02am

Love that you defined the difference between learning and training. So many people forget about that and just in the last few days, I've heard enough horror stories about onboarding aka "training" that make people who were just hired want to ditch their new jobs. 

Having someone quit after 60 days because your onboarding program sucks?? Now THAT is scary. 

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on November 2, 2015 at 11:57am

REALLY scary negative impact on recruiter and employee time invested, budget spent and talent-employer brand reputation. Cold chills!


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