Do you have a problem with employment prospects and team members “ghosting” you?

By Steve Moran

I confess to feeling like I was a bit out of the know when a friend started talking about how he was having this huge problem with employment prospects and team members “ghosting” him.  

My response was “HUH?”

You Probably Already Know . . .

But in case you don’t, ghosting is something that came out of the modern dating world. It is where rather than a traditional break-up — where the one doing the breaking tells the other person it is over . . . they just disappear. They cut off all communication and break social media connections. The reason for doing it this way is that it is a lot easier for the person doing the breaking up. It is not very nice or fair to the one who is being broken up with, but super easy for the one pulling the trigger.

What is kind of weird for me is to learn this is a new kind of thing. I have spent most of my life in sales, and for that entire time I — and every other salesperson in the world — is clobbered with ghosting by senior living leaders who just quit responding rather than say, “Nawm not interested.”   

So my confession is that a small part of me thought, “Serves you right! See what it feels like?” But it is not a good thing.

Two Forms

Ghosting in the workplace takes two forms:

  1. Pre-employment: This can happen at any stage in the process; but, is most puzzling and frustrating when a candidate has been offered a position and then disappears. No response at all. It even happens sometimes after everything is done, the person is scheduled to go to work, and they just don’t show up. No communication, no response, no nothing.

  1. After they have started working: They have started working and but just stop showing up. They don’t call in, they don’t answer their phone, nor respond to emails. They do — however — usually cash their final check.

What the Heck?

The reasons this happens are complex. But it seems clear that the robust employment market is a big contributor, particularly with those jobs that are at the bottom of the employment stack. For those frontline employees, it is just easier to ghost. Those people believe all jobs are the same and they can easily get another . . . and mostly they are right.

There is very little that one can do about ghosting in the pre-employment phase of the process because that decision is made based on little or no data about the prospective employer. Yet, I find myself believing that if you make a compelling case for your organization and a particular position, ghosting will be kept to a minimum.

If in the view of the prospective employee your position looks more or less the same as the one down the street . . . then a quarter an hour, a better schedule, discounted meals, or just about anything is a good enough reason to ghost. On the other hand, if your position looks like the very best position at that level that one could ever hope for . . . ghosting will be kept at a minimum.

Do I Dare Say This?

When someone who is already working for you does the ghost thing — it is in some way your fault or at least preventable. It is their way of saying: You didn’t care enough about me, so I am going to show you that I don’t care about you.

When they ghost it is because there was not a serious, real, meaningful relationship. Even when things are going to hell in a team member’s life — if they have a serious relationship with you as a leader — they will want you to know what is going on.

If you are being ghosted, it should be seen as an amazing opportunity to do things differently.  

Do you have any great ghosting stories?