One minute they’re there, next minute they’re not. No explanation; just vanished. Is this the opening scene of a scary movie?
No, it’s ghosting, a term that started in the dating world. It means to suddenly cut off all communication and forms of contact. Just when you think things are going good — poof — your love interest disappears.
Unfortunately, ghosting is a trend that’s expanding into working relationships, too. Thanks to a solid labor market and historically low unemployment rates, candidates and employees are starting to ghost companies more frequently than ever before. When it’s easy to get another job, it makes it that much easier to just get up and leave … or never show up in the first place.
NPR recently reported on this trend, featuring a story of a disgruntled manager who caused thousands of dollars of missed revenue by ghosting on a shift. This is the first type of workplace ghosting: when current employees just decide to quit without giving any notice. They simply don’t show up.
Other types of workplace ghosting happen more frequently with job candidates. Recruiters and hiring managers can attest to the growing problem of candidates not showing up for interviews, an issue that can happen as frequently when hiring for managerial positions as it does for entry-level jobs. An even worse kind of ghosting is when a job candidate goes through the entire interview process to get hired, and then never shows up to work on the first day.
Employers don’t have total control over being ghosted, but there are things they can do to make employees and candidates less likely to do so:
Respect: When you treat people well, they are more likely to return the favor. This starts with having enough courtesy to contact rejected candidates rather than “ghosting” them. It continues all the way to current employees, fostering engagement and open-door policies that make them feel valued.
Onboarding: First impressions matter. Have a thorough yet succinct onboarding process. You want to excite new employees with a positive atmosphere that enables them to feel comfortable taking those critical first steps on the job.
Loyalty: Create a culture where people want to be loyal to the organization. This means being loyal to employees, too, by providing ample benefits and job advancement opportunities. Empathy and understanding during times of struggle make a big impression also. If you stick by them, they’ll stick by you.
Pay scale: Pay employees what they are worth when you hire them. Give them a respectable raise at least annually. Provide a salary increase that will make them smile when they are promoted. Do your market research and meet (and ideally surpass!) what the competition is offering talent.
Communication: Regular communication is essential in today’s technologically advanced world, no matter the industry. Always be honest and transparent in those communications to make employees feel a deeper connection to the organization.
Be positive: The power of positivity cannot be understated. This should start with leadership to initiate a trickle-down effect.
If the unfortunate trend of ghosting does happen to you, don’t be too hard on yourself. Be grateful you’re avoiding or ridding yourself of a bad hire. Next, move on to discover a better match.