The other day I asked a supermarket employee the question, “Where can I get kebabs?” She didn’t say a word. She looked at me with glazed eyes without even acknowledging I was there. I repeated my question and this time she mumbled something – I didn’t recognise the language. It sounded like an ancient language from Transylvania. She walked away without a smile.
It suddenly hit me. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Shivering in my shoes, I realised who I had encountered. A zombie service staff member had infiltrated this business and was operating under the guise of a customer service representative.
I was desperate to call up other startup and small business owners to let them know about this horrifying phenomenon before it contaminated their businesses. I was about to phone local journalists Jonnie Deadline and Karen Feature but realised that they had scant knowledge of reporting on somnambulant beings.
They were more experienced at reporting on murderers, hijackers and robberies. They didn’t have experience of paranormal activity like their better equipped American counterparts. Although Europe, especially Eastern Europe, has had sightings from places like Transylvania, Estonia and even Poland, have centuries’ experience and encounters with paranormal beings, interest seems to be waning. The focus is more on crop circles, Stonehenge, wizards, sorcerers and rock star sightings.
Frustrated, not knowing what to do, I went down to a local second-hand bookstore. There was Mr Eric Franken in his Tweed jacket and Velcro-looking silver brown moustache. I asked him if he knew any books on dealing with zombies. He took me to a dusty corner with cobwebs and took out “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks but this was written in 2003 and way out of date. This tome also focused almost exclusively on military style invasions of zombies in America and counter measures involving in country’s vast armoury of citizen weaponry.
So I asked Mr Franken for some contacts of experts who knew about the presence of the living dead in the business world. I interviewed them and then locked myself up for three days to compile a brief monograph entitled “The Business Survival Manual to Zombie Infiltration and Invasion”.
Flipping through this monograph, which covers many areas of the zombie threat in business, I wrote these few tips based on my notes made with the experts:
How to recognise a potential zombie employee. When you employ someone you could prod them with a cattle stick to see if they are alive but unfortunately this is illegal. Rather hire the person on a casual basis and send out a mystery shopper to engage with casual employee. Zombie employees pretend to be alive when they are with you, the small business owner, but a mystery shopper with the right training could quickly reveal their true identity.
Small businesses can’t afford zombie staff. They need staff to be up and running straight away. A zombie staff member just costs too much for a start-up or small business.
Another typical zombie staff member more difficult to detect is the zombie supervisor or manager who is sucking the lifeblood out of staff members. They are scaring them away from your business. The way to deal with this problem is to perform exit interviews with your staff that leave and to and assess your supervisors and managers carefully before you employ them.
Watch out for zombies in your business that are sucking your finances dry. Monitor escalating phone and stationery bills, disappearing stock and people who vanish for long breaks or take sick leave frequently. The recommended method to deal with this is systems, procedures and tight controls. A hands-on approach in your business prevents zombies sucking you dry.
If you’ve been riveted to your screen with these tips from my Z-files, watch out for future zombie horror tales. And, if you’ve got some of your own to share with other start-ups and small businesses, please send them to us.