Ghosting is a term that’s commonly used in online dating to describe “standing up” a date or connection. You just disappear from the person’s life and end all contact without giving any explanation. In June 2018 LinkedIn, a social network of professionals published an article about ‘ghosting’ at work, and why it’s driving companies crazy.
Amanda Bradford, CEO, and founder of the League, a dating app told LinkedIn that ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response” among people in the younger generations. She pointed out that ghosting used to be limited to dating but has moved to the job market in recent years.
How Do Employees Ghost an Employer
Ghosting at work can happen anywhere along the career journey, from an applicant, job candidate, to employee. Some potential candidates start speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager only to disappear without a trace. However, it’s not just in the early stages of an employee relationship when this happens. Employees have been known to pack up for the night and never show up again.
Nurses have been ranked as the most trusted profession again, for the seventeenth year in a row. How can those who wear badges as the most trusted profession just skip out on an employer, co-workers, and patients?
Well, it happens. When I was managing a group of case management nurses, I learned first hand what ghosting is all about. I had hired nurse A, who had several years of experience as a case manager. She was doing well in the role. However, she seemed to struggle a bit in the environment and with peers. We talked about how to acclimate to the work environment, and I helped her make a few changes to her work schedule to get her more time with a mentor. With extra support from me and a mentor, she seemed to be doing a bit better.
One day, I was sitting at my desk when a fellow manager called to chat. She said, “Hey, what happened to nurse A? I saw her leaving with a box of what looked like personal belongings.” Of course, I had no response because I thought everything was improving.
I walked over to Nurse A’s desk to find that all of her belongings were gone. There was no note, no email, and no phone call. The only thing she left was an empty desk and a full queue of clients that had to be transferred to a few already overloaded case managers. I tried calling and emailing to get a better an idea as to what happened and to make sure she was okay, but even my attempts at contact were ghosted.
4 Reasons Ghosting is Bad
There are a few reasons that ghosting your employer is just a bad decision. Here are four reasons you shouldn’t ghost an employer.
1 ) Puts Your Reputation at Risk
If you walk out without any notice or communication, you need to understand that no one will likely get a warm, fuzzy feeling the next time you see any former co-workers. Nursing is a hard profession, and when you leave your employer and fellow nurses in a lurch, it stings. You won’t be remembered as the employee that was great at patient care, even if you were. You will forever be the nurse that walked out without notice.
2 ) Shuts Down Networking Opportunities
Managers, recruiters, and human resources professionals talk. They network at conferences, meetings, and other events. They will name drop or ask about potential employees. And, if your name and the phrase, “he ghosted us” comes up in a convo, there is a good chance you might not move forward in the hiring process.
You might also find that your lateral networking system goes dark after ghosting your employer. Nurses who you thought were your “friends” might decide that they don’t like the way you left and not reach out or respond. This can hurt your future prospects at networking events and jobs
3 ) Adds Stress to Your Coworkers and Employer
Nursing units across the country are faced with staffing issues and high nurse to patient ratios. When you’re name is on the schedule to work 7a-7p, everyone from the hospital administrator to the patient relies on you showing up. Ghosting can increase safety issues on the unit where you were to work and skyrocket the stress levels of everyone there.
4 ) Burns Bridges
Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities are affiliated. So, if you ghost hospital ABC, you are likely to be placed on a do-no-hire list for the entire organization. This could limit your job opportunities at skilled nursing facilities, surgical centers, and home care and hospice agencies. If you live in a rural, small, or even moderate size city, you could find yourself having a difficult time getting hired again.
Try This Instead
While ghosting isn’t a good practice, accepting a new job or staying in a current position that isn’t a good fit isn’t a good idea either. You have to learn a few good strategies for speaking up for yourself and letting employers know what you’re thinking and what you need.
Here are a few simple ways to communicate your needs without ghosting:
Learn how to say ”no” gracefully. You can tell a future employer that you don’t think the job is for you in a courteous manner that doesn’t burn bridges.
If you are unhappy with your current job and are ready to walk way - give the minimum amount of notice needed. If you don’t think you can handle another two weeks on the job, talk to your manager to see if there is a possibility of being able to step out gracefully before the two weeks are up.
If you’re having an issue on the job, talk to your supervisor. If there is a situation that makes talking to your manager tense, request that you have another member of management or human resources present for any discussions.
If you do ghost and then feel bad about it, reach out by sending an email and explaining the situation. It probably won’t build any bridges with that employer, but it does show that you are thinking about your reputation for the future.
Have you ever ghosted a recruiter or interview? Have you ever left a job without notice? Or, maybe you’re like me, and you were ghosted by an employee. Share your thoughts about the subject below.