5 Ways to Spot a Workplace Energy Vampire

What is an energy vampire? According to Judith Orloff, MD, University of California Los Angeles Psychiatric Clinical Faculty, it is “somebody who literally zaps your energy dry“. notes that they sometimes drain your emotional energy intentionally.

Energy vampires can be found wherever employees are working – whether in a physical office or remotely from home. An energy vampire’s behavior drains the positivity of coworkers, and in businesses with call centers, they can even affect customers! Spotting them and slaying their unproductive behaviors can save an entire team from wallowing in an unmotivated wasteland. It can also minimize the damage done to customer satisfaction. Read on to learn how to detect an energy vampire – and what to do when you find them.

5 ways to spot a workplace energy vampire
  1. When your best employees are not shining bright, look out!
    Talent and expertise are favorite targets of energy vampires. They are adept at turning these traits against individuals and teams. For instance, an energy vampire might repeatedly ask for help from your most knowledgeable agents, preventing them from servicing customers.
  2. Notice what happens in meetings
    Team meetings are a hotspot for energy vampires, with multiple people coming together for a productive purpose. These employees love to hijack meetings, monopolizing attention and sucking up time.
  3. Be aware of bullying and intimidation
    Energy vampires often use dehumanizing tactics to prey on coworkers’ insecurities and build up their own egos. This can manifest as harping on others’ mistakes or over-sharing their own achievements.
  4. Locate the center of the drama
    Energy vampires are drama-magnets. They are almost always the common thread in issues between employees. If there are recurring problems with customers, they are likely involved.
  5. Take account of the lack of accountability
    When problems arise because of their behavior, these employees often lay low or shift attention to others to avoid accountability. Are your call center’s CSAT scores low? An energy vampire will always claim it is the fault of a coworker.

How to handle a workplace energy vampire

Once you find an energy vampire, what do you do? While it may be tempting to line their cubicle or Zoom Room with garlic, this is not likely to solve your problem.

First, try to determine the cause of their negativity and attention-seeking. Often it can be a lack of training, direction, or inclusiveness. Even an energy vampire can turn into a paragon of duty with enough attention and motivation. Here are some ideas:

  • Train or re-train
    Sometimes the energy vampire needs to be shown their own reflection regarding job knowledge and skill development. More training on key aspects of their job, or even re-training on fundamentals, may be required. Training presents the opportunity to understand what is needed to motivate and help them succeed.
  • Establish goals
    Set and clearly communicate goals to provide direction for these employees and help them focus on what’s important. This helps manage their time, so they aren’t busy sucking the rest of the team’s life force. Once you’ve established goals, recognize and reward the (former) vampire’s progress and accomplishment to reinforce positive behaviors.
  • Build a sense of belonging
    There is a good chance that your energy vampire feels disconnected or like an outsider. This is even more common if your vampire is a remote employee. Provide options for collaboration and best-practice sharing between this employee and peers or their supervisor. This will make the vampire feel less isolated and strengthen your team overall.
  • Bonus tip – the above tactics are also helpful for workplace zombies!

Gamification – the #1 defense against workplace energy vampires

Learning, goals, and collaboration are a lot easier with a gamification technology solution. Gamifying day-to-day work and introducing friendly competition, status levels, and other game elements can make dull jobs fun and exciting. With gamification, you can set up contests in minutes and deliver digital rewards in an instant. Most importantly, it will help align your employee activities with business objectives.

Check out this video to learn more about aligning goals & behavior with gamification.