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Ghosting in the Workplace

First seen in the online dating world, ghosting in the workplace is abruptly ending communication with someone without notification or explanation. As rude and inconsiderate as it is, it’s happening with more and more regularity in places outside of dating.

Companies across the United States are reporting that candidates, new hires, and current employees are ghosting them, leading to a significant business disruption.

When we talk about ghosting in dating scenarios, the act is pretty straightforward: One party cuts off all communication with the other. However, when shifting focus to the workplace, ghosting can present itself in a variety of ways.

Girl at table

There are three main avenues that ghosting can take in the workplace:

Ghosting An Interview

  1. Ghosting an interview – when a potential candidate for a job opening schedules and agrees to show up for an interview but does not show up and does not give notice or explanation as to why.
  2. Not showing up on day one – a new hire fails to show up on their scheduled first day of work and does not communicate as to why. Many companies have reported going through the hiring process with a potential employee, all for them to not even show up to the office on their first day.
  3. The no notice quitter – companies have reported employees going home from work and never showing up again, without giving notice of resignation, and never responding to efforts of communication after that.

Ghosting Employers

In a study performed by Clutch, 41% of workers found it appropriate to ghost an employer, while 35% of workers found it unacceptable for a workplace to ghost an employee.

Dr. Finkelman, a business psychology professor and chair at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, said that this type of behavior is similar to the relaxed approach individuals take when online dating.

“Potential employees are acting in much the same way as dating behavior when you feel you have so many options you don’t have to worry about someone who is interested,” Dr. Finkelman said.

Randolph Rice, a practicing lawyer who was ghosted by his receptionist of two months, adds: “Phone and the internet have created less of a bond between individuals. Connections are so easy to cut off, so, why not do it for a job?”

So, Why Do We Ghost?

Some experts believe it stems from the fear of having uncomfortable conversations. Just like in dating, people don’t want to have conflict in a working environment. By ghosting an employer, an employee can pursue other work opportunities without dealing with the awkward resignation discussion with their employer.

We all know how challenging it is to talk to others about difficult topics, but it is necessary for our growth and development as humans. What’s just as bad as never maturing is having a terrible reputation in the work world. By ghosting an employer, you’re burning an important bridge. Additionally, your coworkers will see you as immature and childish for not handling the situation professionally.

How can we avoid being ghosted? Dr. Finkelman stresses the importance of maintaining an open line of communication. Regularly checking in on your employees to ensure they are happy, as well as getting feedback on what would make their experience more enjoyable, is not only going to make employees feel valued but will also maintain a steady stream of communication.

If an employee feels like they have an open, honest relationship with their employer, they are less likely to ghost them if they do end up leaving. Also, just as important is dealing with the problems that are making employees quit in the first place.