What is employee "ghosting" and how can it impact your business?

Exactly what this new phenomenon is and tips on tackling it before it impacts you

27Sep

The modern workplace is awash with ghosts. No, companies aren't being haunted by incredibly persistent or annoyed specters of past employees. In fact, the opposite is true. Employees don't seem to be showing up in the first place.

So, what exactly is this new workplace phenomenon and how can it negatively impact your business? Better yet, how should you go about tackling the issue?

What is "ghosting"?

The term "ghosting" is something which the current generation better associates with dating rather than work. However, it seems very much to have seeped over from the romantic vernacular and straight into the workplace. 

What is it exactly? It's the act of talking to someone, perhaps even meeting them and then any contact thereafter is left with no reply.

In the working environment, this comes in one major form. A candidate comes forward for an interview, is perhaps given a job offer and then is never heard from again. Or perhaps they accept the job offer, then simply fail to show up on their first day of work. Sometimes it is even the case with current, longstanding, employees who simply stop coming to work one day. In all cases, any attempt at contact usually ends with more frustration than results.

The simple fact of the matter is that in a world of umpteen methods of communication, ghosting can be a very clear and uncomfortable signal. 


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Why is it happening?

Many in the recruitment industry feel there is a simple reason for this new phenomenon in the hiring process; employers did it first. After all, who hasn't been to an interview in recent years, had a very positive interview, and then proceeded to never hear from that employer ever again? All too many, to put it simply.

So, whether consciously or not it seems that candidates are now reciprocating this type of behavior. In an over-saturated employment market, the shoe seems to be very much on the other foot.

Of course, this has left a wide variety of issues for the employers that is affecting. They may have ceased recruitment having successfully filled a position, only to realize that they then have to begin the process all over again. It is becoming very much a waste of time and money for employers across the country, even, perhaps across the world.

Another reason that candidates may have for this behavior is also quite simple: they had a better offer. The case is often that a candidate is interviewing at two or three different places at once, they accept the first offer given to them and then receive a better offer (whether that be more money or not). They then simply "ghost" on the first offer in order to accept the second, third or whatever offer may actually entice them to stay in the end. It's often the simplest answer that hurts the most, but more often than not your company simply won't be offering enough to satisfy the potential employee.

Avoiding ghosting in your workplace

For many, the simple solution to avoiding employee ghosting in the workplace is simple, but quite hard to put together. This solution? Better offers, better perks and the kind of incentives which will ensure employees turn up on their first day of work. Of course, this is often much easier said than done.

Small companies, startups and those with low cash flow will simply never be able to compete with some bigger companies employment packages. Even trying may be a quick path to ensuring your business overpays its employees and loses more money than it gains. Which, obviously, is not the ideal course of action to take. 

On the whole, ghosting like any new phenomenon may soon leave the workplace. However, it may also become a new and frustrating norm which needs investigating prior to placing an offer. And employers, for the most part, can do boo about it. There is no magic cure, simply putting forward best practices, good offers and a worthwhile working environment for candidates and current employees alike.

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