Ghosting in the workplace…a no-call, no-show absence may not be a new concept in the office, but these situations have been given a modern-day title that better depicts an unexpected and permanent disappearance of fellow colleagues or potential hires. This is known as “ghosting,” and while the word was originally reserved for personal relationships, it seems to be running rampant among professional relationships as well. Regardless of any stage of commitment a person has made to an employer or recruiter, no business is safe from the cold rejection of someone ghosting in the workplace.

This can range from a candidate failing to appear for a scheduled interview, a new hire not showing up for their first day, or even to a long-standing employee leaving on their lunch break, never to return. These scenarios leave employers or co-workers scratching their heads wondering what went wrong, but there are many possibilities and the only person who can truly answer them has decided to cut off all forms of communication. 

Although we can only speculate on the exact reasoning for this trend to be on the rise, experts have noticed a few common themes at the root of these cases. Most commonly motivating an individual to ghost in the workplace is frankly, the anxiety that comes with confrontation. Rather than having an uncomfortable conversation with a manager or recruiter, the fear of disappointing them and receiving backlash leads a person to believe the easiest way out of a commitment is to not have that conversation at all…hence ghosting in the workplace.

With so many relationships relying on text messages or social media to communicate, the simplicity of blocking someone has become all too easy. Especially among younger generations, ghosting has become so commonplace in all aspects of life, that people are making the mistake of considering it as a viable option in their professional career to let someone know that they are not interested. It’s no surprise that it’s leading to ghosting in the workplace.

Professional etiquette seems to have been thrown out the window; work environments are more relaxed and daily usage of mobile devices is now the norm. A study surveying CIO’s found that with this elevated presence of smartphones and tablets, 64% noticed a substantial increase of poor form in the workplace. This is likely because today’s young adults have grown up with an abundance of ways to connect with their peers through technology, resulting in many disengaging from face-to-face interactions. They don’t know how to have those tough conversations that seem daunting and are often avoided but are ultimately helpful to everyone involved.

More specifically, those who are receiving multiple job offers at once may not have learned how to say “no,” which derives from the need to seek approval from others and often stems from one’s upbringing and societal pressures. This compels candidates to string along companies or recruiters until a better offer comes along, and with this emotional detachment from reality, they abandon all other commitments without a second thought to the consequences of their actions. Undoubtedly though, not all people who are ghosting their employers are acting purely from a place of ignorance.

Some believe that with unemployment rates at a 50 year low, there are plenty of job opportunities elsewhere – it won’t matter if they burn a few bridges here and there. This mentality is problematic and escaping a trail of bad impressions can be tougher than you’d think; you might even say that ghosting in the workplace will come back to haunt you. Recruiters have a great memory, especially if a name is associated with red flags. Not only will hiring managers and recruiters remember a name, but they also will not hesitate to let their colleagues know about their past experience and to avoid extending any opportunities to this candidate, even if it’s years later. References can take you a long way and if you ghost every job you are unhappy at, you will have nobody to back up your skills to future employers. The rise of ghosting does not solely fall on the shoulders of candidates. Part of the blame for ghosting in the workplace might fall on employers and recruiters themselves.

Respect is a two-way street and frequently an employer leaves a candidate feeling more like a business transaction than a human being, but what goes around comes around. Most of us have likely experienced an interview that felt promising, with the interviewer promising to be in touch – whether it be with good news or bad news; yet you never hear from them again. Candidates are fed up with this and the tables seem to be turning with recruiters receiving the short end of the stick. Even for employees that have been with a company for a substantial amount of time, if their management seems to not care about them, they don’t care about management. They feel their bosses don’t deserve the respect of a two-week notice, so they ghost them. A recent study found that about 2 out of 3 employees would quit their job due to feeling unappreciated.

While there needs to be a shift from employers, recruiters and workers alike, there are some things business leaders can do to make themselves feel more approachable and minimize these instances of ghosting in the workplace. From the moment someone is in consideration, constant and direct communication is critical. When leaders set a high standard of honesty and respect, a person is much more likely to reciprocate those values.

Make it known to them that someone is always available to listen without the fear of being berated, even when it’s less-than-good news. When dealing with new employees ghosting on their first day, perhaps closing the gap between when the job is offered, and when the start date is could help. We need to remember that without employment agreements, employees are free agents!

If the stress of searching for and interviewing qualified candidates is affecting the productivity of your business and leaving current employees feeling neglected, it’s time to contact Qualigence! Our team of experts can help you find the right candidate at the right time and weed through those who will prove to be unreliable, leaving you with more time to focus on engaging your team!