What is “workplace ghosting”? And how to prevent it
It’s been a year. More accurately, it’s been a rough 20-months. The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the labour market in unprecedented ways, and a wave of trends have emerged as a result. Over the past year, employers have witnessed The Great Resignation, have had to adapt to #WFH and remote-working, manage The Great Reshuffle – and now, they’re grappling with “workplace ghosting”. While some of these trends are not necessarily new – having occurred pre-pandemic – Covid-19 has had a substantial influence on employee/employer attitudes, resulting in a tremendous shift in professional behaviours.
What is “ghosting”?
Ghosting, in dating, is the act of one person vanishing from the relationship without so much as a “see you never” text. Now, it’s happening in the professional realm – and employers are worried.
Ghosting has been occurring in the workforce since before the pandemic. We just didn’t call it that, and it was often employers that pulled the vanishing act – not employees. In the past, some would argue that employers were the “ghosters” (often not responding to resume submissions, or communicating with candidates’ post-interview for example), leaving candidates in the dark.
What we’re seeing now are candidates and new hires dumping employers without explanation, or much warning. Whether they’re not showing up for interviews, quitting without notice, or accepting roles only to back out at the last minute – workers are playing the field with more confidence than ever before, without answering e-mails or calls, leaving employers to simply “get the hint”.
In this pandemic-era, hiring and retention has become the defining challenge for employers, explains Insider – with 76% of employers claiming to have been ghosted in the past year, an Indeed survey found.
Why are employees ghosting?
During the height of the pandemic, we saw a huge increase in employee-layoffs – particularly in service-sector industries which were hit hard as the result of world-wide lockdowns, writes Global News. But as the economy has started to rebound and rebuild, Statistics Canada released data stating that job vacancies were up 25% in 2021, compared to two years ago, Global News explains. Simply put, job openings are outpacing job seekers, giving them more leverage and bargaining power when choosing where to work.
Some assume that employees who ghost are unqualified for their positions, however, Insider writes that “misleading job descriptions, low pay, and inadequate training gave [workers] little reason to stick around”.
Employees know that they’re in demand, and they’re demanding better working conditions, and benefits. So, when a better offer comes around, they don’t hesitate to jump ship. Another Indeed survey found that 40% of workers who admitted to ghosting, said they did so because they’d received a better offer – with 22% saying that the salary wasn’t high enough, and 15% citing inadequate benefits, reported Workest.
How to prevent ghosting from happening to you
It is important to note that not all companies are experiencing incidents of ghosting, particularly those with high-paying roles. Here are some ways that you can minimize your chances of being ghosted, that are good for businesses overall.
1. Competitive salary: make sure you understand what the role requires and match the salary accordingly. Salary guides are an important resource, and by offering fair compensation you can distinguish yourself from the rest.
2. Competitive benefits: whether it’s health benefits, vacation days, or personalised perks, offering your employees a decent benefits package could improve employee satisfaction, and retention.
3. Flexibility: now, more than ever, employees want flexibility in their roles. Understanding the needs of your employees when it comes to how they structure their day – and from where – can go a long way.
4. Revisit your recruitment process: perhaps you need to identify new ways to evaluate candidates, or revamp existing systems – the recruitment process is one of the most important steps for finding the right fit.
5. Communication and transparency: it may seem obvious, but open and effective communication can have a huge impact on the relationship between you and your candidate. Being honest and transparent about the role and company, as well as communicating with them throughout the process can help build trust. Asking for feedback can also provide valuable insight.
Whether it’s employees or employers doing it, ghosting in any capacity is not in anyone’s best interest. It’s unprofessional and can hurt future employment prospects for both the job seeker, and the employer. Simple, honest communication is good practice and can go a long way. Let’s leave the ghosting to Halloween, shall we?