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We are surrounded by Zombies! We better do something…

I finally finished writing this post that I started just after Halloween – not because it is long or complex but simply because other things were more of a priority. Anyhow, back in October and in the spirit of Halloween, we had decided to rent a Halloween movie that was somewhat kid-friendly. Our selection ended up being Shaun of the Dead, a 2004 movie. Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into a movie critics and I won’t pretend this movie ranks anywhere in my top 3,000 favorite movies – that’s not the point here – but the movie made me realize how many (most?) employees are zombies.

“What the heck are you talking about?”, you ask.

I’ll spare you the gory details but there’s a scene at the end of the movie were the zombies end up being captured and turned into normal workers. The scene is great as it portrays the zombies perform mindless (and numbing) tasks while people around them don’t seem to notice them or even mind them at all.

[You may also be interested to read what Derek has been publishing on the topic of zombies in the workplace]

To simplify things and explain the analogy I came up with after watching this silly movie, I will start by explaining that in my opinion people (employees) fit into one of three categories.


Although at first, we may believe that everyone fits into this category you may be surprised to find out that it isn’t so. LIVING people are those who take full responsibility of their life while they don’t necessarily travel the path the most followed. LIVINGS do a lot of introspection to make sure they are living the life they truly want and they aren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zone.

In organizations, the LIVINGS aren’t afraid to look for a better way to do things and challenge the status quo. They aren’t happy just mechanically doing their job and they look for challenges that will make them grow professionally. You can find LIVINGS at every levels of an organization.

Although not measured scientifically, I believe there is only 20% to 30% of the working population that are real LIVINGS.


At the other end of the spectrum are the ZOMBIES. Contrary to the LIVINGS, the ZOMBIES are dead workers. They perform routine tasks without getting intellectually and/or emotionally involved. No matter how old they biological body actually is, the ZOMBIES are counting the days ’til retirement – or if retirement is more than 5 years away, they are counting the days until their next vacation, until next week-end, and sometimes the hours until the end of the day.

In industrial times, ZOMBIES were seen punching in and punching out of their day job. With the advent of modern technology and the disappearance of the punch clocks, ZOMBIES can pass their time updating their Facebook page, sending useless emails and performing tasks on their computer to keep their body active since their soul has died.

Although not measured scientifically, I believe there is between 20% to 30% of the working population that are dead ZOMBIES.


Somewhere between the LIVINGS and the ZOMBIES is the majority of the working population. The LIVING-DEAD are very difficult to distinguish from the LIVINGS as they seem to perform their tasks with some interest. The main difference between the LIVINGS and the LIVING-DEAD is that the latter were once part of the LIVING population but at some point in their career, their brain has been captured by ZOMBIES – just like in the Shaun of the Dead movie, once a living is bitten by a zombie, there is a gradual decline toward becoming a full-fledged zombie.

Although not measured scientifically, I believe the majority of the working population (between 40% and 60%) are LIVING-DEAD.

Can ZOMBIES and LIVING-DEAD transform back into LIVINGS?

Contrary to the movie, the LIVING-DEAD and the ZOMBIES can come back to becoming LIVING individuals but the road back is difficult. The sad news is that most large organizations are based on rules, on controls and on structures that help breed ZOMBIES by converting LIVINGS into LIVING-DEAD. The good news is that there are ways out – I know, I used to be a ZOMBIE myself…

What category do you fit into?


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