An Associated Press story out of New York caught my attention this weekend. I was introduced to the term “ghosting.”
All seemed to be going well with Randolph Rice’s new receptionist. She asked for more responsibilities and got them, and said she was happy, the story reported.
Then, two months into the job at Rice’s law office, she didn’t show up for work or call in sick. Rice tried to reach her, but got no response. He’d been ghosted: The receptionist ended the work relationship in much the same way many people end romantic associations, without a text, email, or call.
“Phones and the internet have created less of a bond between individuals,” says Rice, who practices in Baltimore. “Connections are so easy to cut off, so, why not do it for a job?”
While most people do give notice if they intend to leave, ghosting is becoming more common. Small business owners and human resources professionals say it happens with staffers of any age and tenure, but is more likely among younger employees whose dependence on texts and chats can make them less experienced with tough conversations. Many deal with uncomfortable situations by just cutting off communication.
The ghosting cases follow a trend toward no-shows at job interviews that began when companies resumed hiring after the Great Recession. Jodi Chavez, president of the recruiting firm Randstad Professionals, says some candidates felt that hiring managers were cavalier during the recession, not responding to resume submissions, emails and calls.
They’re now acting the same way. And that recession-era approach is still a factor, says Pete Davis, president of recruiter Impact Management Services.
The low unemployment rate and big demand for help makes staffers feel more empowered to just leave, Chavez says.
“There’s an abundance of job openings. They have more choices,” she says.
Ghosting isn’t just an HR problem, in my opinion. I have witnessed first hand the habit of “going silent” when someone doesn’t want to deal with something.
Ghosting used to be limited to sales department. If a customer didn’t want to buy and ad, etc., they would just stop answering the phone, email, duck under the desk, etc. Many feel it this behavior part of the “sales game,” but I think it is just cowardice.
However, ghosting has permeated nearly every aspect of business. If there is potential conflict, better to ignore than deal with it.
Problems don’t just go away. Conflict is a part of life. Reputations are made and ruined by such behaviors.
Leave the ghosts to Halloween. They have no place in the business world.
David Specht is Editor and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.