Employee Ghosting: What Is It and How Can You Stop It?

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There’s a new HR headache in town and it’s called, ghosting.

A term coined in the modern-day world of dating to describe the action of not turning up for a date, or no longer responding to messages and cutting all communication from someone without an explanation or conversation.

This has now crept its way into the workplace.

It is a concept that has existed for a long time but has only just been given an official name, ’employee ghosting’, as it’s become more common in recent months.

What is employee ghosting?

Employee ghosting can take many forms.
You could be recruiting for a new role, arrange an interview with a potential candidate and they never show up – they don’t call to say they need to rearrange or want to cancel, they are just a no show.
It could go one step further and you hire someone for a new role, but they never show up for their first day.

Employee ghosting isn’t just reserved for new starters or candidates. It has been reported that companies have had employees, who have been at the business for a while, just simply leave the workplace one day to never return with no explanation. It isn’t until an employer has made numerous attempts to get in contact with that employee only to have no success that they realise they’ve chosen not to come back to work.

This is increasingly popular and one of the most impactful for an employer because you end up losing an employee with no warning; therefore, you have no time to find or train a replacement.
You are left with a workload that then gets piled onto colleagues’ desks and have to spend time and money trying to hire someone new in a very short space of time.

Why do employees ghost?

When it comes to a no-show for a scheduled job interview or a first day of work it usually comes down to the candidate getting a better opportunity or just simply changing their mind.

In the case of an employee who has been with you for a while, ghosting can occur for several reasons and, unfortunately, you will never know what the reason was for that employee as you don’t get the opportunity to ask them.

It could be that they found a better job opportunity, moved away, no longer enjoyed their job, wanted to try something new, health complications etc.

But why do they choose not to let their employer know that they will not be attending the interview/first day of employment or returning to work?
This is where it gets a bit more complex because there is no good reason for an employee or candidate to not pick up the phone or even send an email to let people know what is going on.

In reality, it’s down to laziness and a lack of depth within relationships that we have become accustomed to in the age of social media and technology. The idea of picking up a phone to make a call is alien to many of us, especially millennials and generation z, and the added pressure of the conversation being considered an uncomfortable one to have just puts some people off altogether. Instead, they opt for the easy route and avoid any conversation by playing a disappearing act.

It has become such a phenomenon in the dating world that most deem it as an acceptable way of ending a relationship and this includes work relationships.

How can you stop employees from ghosting?

As an employer, there is not always a lot you can do if an employee decides that they no longer want to work at the company. However, there are actions you can take to reduce the probability of employees, new and long service, from ghosting.

Establish strong relationships from day one

If you make a conscious effort to treat candidates and employees like people by showing them time and respect, then you can expect the same treatment in return.

Spend some time getting to know everyone you speak with from the moment you book them in for an interview. This way they will feel more inclined to pick up the phone or send you a message should they need to cancel their interview or hand in their notice.

Make communication easy

Try to make yourself approachable and make lines of communication easy for employees so they don’t feel awkward about having these types of conversations with you.

Let them know how they can contact you if they need to have this kind of discussion and make yourself as available as possible by having a clear line of communication whether it be regular 1-2-1 meetings or a direct number they can call/text you on.

Be aware

A sense of emotional intelligence can be helpful in predicting these events because you can usually tell when an employee is thinking about leaving. They will start to distance themselves, productivity may drop, and their demeanour will change.

Make sure that you are paying attention to your employees and picking up on any signs that could point to a potential ghosting situation.

What should you do if an employee ghosts?

If you get to work one morning and find that an employee has not turned up and not been in touch to let you know that they will be absent then you should follow your unauthorised absence procedure and try to get in touch with the employee.

If this is unsuccessful, you should then attempt to speak with their emergency contact which should have been provided on the first day of employment.
If this still leaves you with no explanation as to why the employee is not at work, then you should send them a letter asking if they’re okay. The letter should also inform them that they’re being classed as absent without leave and if they do not contact you within the next 48 hours, this is a disciplinary matter and will be classed as gross misconduct.

If you require further advice or support with the issue of employee ghosting, or any other HR issues, then we are here to help. Please call us on 0845 2626 260 to arrange a free consultation and speak to a qualified HR consultant

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