There was a discussion happening before Christmas about employees “ghosting” or just not showing up for work and leaving without communicating to, their employers.
I had some thoughts and feelings on the issue, and I also found it super informative as to the blindspots employers and our larger society has when it comes to labour relations, and also on a more micro level, failures of leadership and management within organizations.
As you may have summarized from the title, yes, I do believe that employers deserve ghosting. Notice I said I think they deserve it, which is a completely different discussion as to whether you should or not!
Obviously, there will be consequences to just up and leaving from your job. If you choose to ghost just be prepared to face those consequences and do whatever you want. I’m much more interested in the WHY that employees are doing this, and the reaction employers have to it.
To blame employees for ghosting, to point out why they’re wrong to do it and raise it as their issue and failure is avoiding leadership responsibility for the environment that has led to the ghosting.
You’re lying to yourself if you think happy engaged employees ghost good employers. No happy, rational person wakes up one morning and says “fuck it, I’m not going in today and fuck that guy I’m not calling out either”. And if your reaction to that statement is to try and blame an entire generation as being entitled and lacking in socialization skills, I’ll have to remind you it’s not really great socialization to blame and generalize an entire generation and you raised them.
And, if you look past the anger and frustration you have for the situation of coming into work one morning to find an employee hasn’t shown up, which is legit and it’s normally to be upset, do you think you’re going to shame people by criticizing them, into not ghosting? Do you think you’re going to fix or rebuild employer-employee relations by making them more adversarial?
I think it’s a lot more important to look at why employees feel so disengaged, and how leadership has failed to create a positive and productive work environment that employees are engaged with. This means different things at different organizations, and only you can get to the root of the problems within your business so you can solve them.
I’m also reminded of two really great quotes I’ve been seeing on my LinkedIn posted by peers, friends and former colleagues:
“Never push a loyal person to the point that they don’t care” and
“People don’t leave a job they leave a manager”
So keep those things in mind if you’re dealing with this issue at your place of work. If you’ve had an employee ghost, take the time to investigate and look at it critically to see if it was just one of those things or if you and your organization and leadership team can do better.
I’d also like to caution assigning blame and bringing up loaded terms like ‘unprofessional’ and ‘immature’. This is someone whom at one point you felt had the skills and qualifications to do the job you hired them for, do you think they changed so much or your judgement was so bad it led to this situation, or do you think you’ve been overlooking toxicity in the workplace, too high a workload and poor supervisory techniques?
To sum up – be a leader on this issue. Realize this is a canary in the coal mine and look at what the underlying causes of employee ghosting might have been, and take action to address these issues.
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