July 15, 2024

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Tackling workplace ghosting

The term ‘ghosting’ is most commonly associated with dating, when a partner breaks off a relationship by stopping all communication without warning or explanation. This term has now crept into the workplace and is being used to describe candidates failing to show up to interviews or accepting job offers and then not turning up to work on the first day – all without reason or explanation. This is accompanied by a total communication blackout and so despite efforts, the employer simply can’t get hold of the candidate. Ghosting can also refer to the sudden disappearance of an employee without reason, more likely during the probationary period.

Such a practice is on the increase and this is leaving employers out of pocket and reeling. But can employers do anything to stem the flow of ‘ghosting’ or is it an inevitable part of 21st century recruitment?

Here, Ian Feaver, Director of workplace culture specialist, O.C. Tanner Europe, asserts that employers can make changes to reduce the likelihood of them being ghosted, and here’s how….


  1. Assess your ’employer brand’– How is your company perceived? Does it have a reputation as being a nice place to work with great opportunities? Are employees quick to recommend the company on Glassdoor or does the company’s unpleasant reputation precede it? It’s important to take a candid look at your culture because more than ever, job seekers are doing their ‘homework’ on employers. They are digging deep to find out all about the employer’s brand and if the company’s culture is a ‘turn off’, then they will simply look elsewhere.


  1. Ensure new hires complement your culture– Don’t just ensure the candidate is a right fit for the job being advertised but make sure they will complement your workplace culture. If your workplace culture is built on service excellence, then a sales person who is focused on results rather than building relationships may prove at odds with everything the company stands for. It’s important to be realistic and honest with what the company and job seekers are looking for otherwise ghosting will become more likely.


  1. 3. Be appreciative and respectful– If employers are disrespectful in their dealings with job applicants, then it should be unsurprising if the employer gets ‘ghosted’. By showing appreciation and respect from the application process onwards, this is more likely to be reciprocated. And so, thank applicants for their interest in the company, for coming in for interviews and for deciding to join the company. Keep communication lines open, even when candidates are not being taken forward in the process, and ensure any recruitment agencies behave in the right way. After all, they’re an extension of your company’s culture. With O.C. Tanner’s research finding that 53 per cent of employees would stay at their companies for longer if their employers showed them more appreciation*, the art of saying “thank you” should never be underestimated.


  1. Cast a critical eye over your onboarding process.How welcoming and engaging is it? Onboarding plays a critical role in the engagement of people throughout their employee journey, but just 15 per cent of companies have a formal onboarding programme in place. It’s largely overlooked as an effective means of engagement with the induction process all too often viewed as the responsibility of HR rather than the new hire’s wider team. Therefore put a lot of thought into how you bring new hires onboard and remember that the induction period should never stop, it needs to take place every single day and there needs to be an ongoing effort to build engagement and connection between the individual and the company.


  1. Have a strong leadership team who are ‘mentors’ rather than ‘bosses’.When an employee decides to leave, it is often because of their manager rather than the company. The best leaders display humility rather than power, put their people first, engender trust and show appreciation daily. In fact, when leaders are perceived as advocates and mentors, there is 827 per cent increased odds of the employees being engaged and 600 per cent increased odds of them seeing career opportunities at their organisation*. If your leaders are more interested in asserting their authority than being mentors, it’s time for change.


Employers can’t eliminate ‘ghosting’ altogether, and with the job market booming, ‘ghosting’ is set to rise. However employers can reduce the likelihood of it happening to them by taking a closer look at their company culture. If the ‘employer brand’ is perceived negatively, job applicants are treated disrespectfully, leaders are driven by power and control, and onboarding is an afterthought, then it’s hardly surprising if candidates and new hires disappear without a trace. Employers must make their workplace appealing, engaging and nurturing. It’s what today’s job seekers are searching for, and if they can’t find it from one company, they’ll simply move onto the next!


*Figures taken from O.C Tanner’s 2018 Global Culture Report