Ghosting (noun): the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.
While the term was born out of the dating scene, it’s become relevant to recruiting as well in today’s candidate-driven market. Employers are experiencing ghosting in the workplace more than ever before. First, candidates were skipping interviews without cancellation. Now, job ghosting has gone to a new extreme. Employers are dealing with new hires who don’t bother to show up on their first day. And worse – some people are quitting their current jobs without a word to their bosses; they simply stop coming to work.
Now that “ghosting” is officially in the dictionary, it’s safe to say that it’s not a passing trend. So, what do you do if you’ve been ghosted by an employee
My new hire didn’t show up for their first day of work, and they haven’t returned any of my calls. What do I do?
If it’s been days and you can’t get in touch with your no-show, then it’s time to make another offer. Even if you’ve already rejected your other applicants, that doesn’t mean you need to restart the recruiting process. Reach out to your runner-up candidate and explain that the position has opened again. So long as you treated your rejected applicants the right way, they should be receptive to your offer.
After you’ve secured another employee (and breathe a sigh of relief), consider whether your onboarding experience could have played a role in their decision to ghost on the job:
To prevent being ghosted by an employee, communicate frequently before they arrive and make sure they have everything they need for a successful first day. Do your best to establish a personal connection so they feel a greater sense of commitment to the job. Whether you take them out to lunch or send them a welcome note in the mail, each touchpoint will reduce their chances of job ghosting.
My employee stopped coming to work, and I can’t get in touch with them. What do I do?
Your employee has ghosted on the job, leaving you high and dry with heaps of work piling up by the day. Chances are you need someone to fill the role fast – this is where your talent pipeline comes into play. Sourcing new candidates is a lengthy process, especially for hard-to-fill roles. If you have a pool of qualified candidates that you’ve been keeping warm, you can skip the sourcing and move straight to the interviewing.
If you haven’t been developing a pipeline, there are a couple things you can do to fill your position faster. Start by reaching out to qualified professionals who applied to the role or similar roles in the past. While many of them may not actively be seeking a job, they may still be interested in the position. (A 2019 iHire survey found that 54.8% of people only plan to stay with their current employer for 2 years or less). You can also ask your staff and professional network for referrals; they’re likely to know job seekers in the same field or industry.
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As you’re searching for a new candidate, take time to reflect on why you’ve been a victim of job ghosting. It’s easy to point the finger at the ill-mannered employee, but it may be an indication that you weren’t communicating with them effectively. To prevent future job ghosting, consider what you could have done differently to foster open communication and provide better support – like having regular one-on-one meetings, conducting stay interviews, or developing a more effective orientation and onboarding plan. Implement new practices for your next hire.
In more extreme cases, people will ghost on the job because of an unhealthy or unsupportive company culture. If employees aren’t treated with respect at work, they certainly won’t feel compelled to do right by their employer – and so, job ghosting may become an attractive option. If you think your company culture has contributed, implement a long-term plan for building a more collaborative and empowering workplace to foster employee engagement and retention.
The Key Takeaways
With job ghosting on the rise, employers need to have a strong game plan in case their team members disappear without a trace. Here’s what to do when you’ve been ghosted by an employee:
While you can never be totally ghost-proof – especially those of you in high-turnover industries – employers with a proactive recruitment strategy, personalized onboarding plan, and a positive work environment will be much less likely to be ghosted by an employee.