Employee Ghosting

Attrition (Workforce Reduction)
Knowledge Center


Devayani Vyavaharkar
Student (University), Germany

Employee Ghosting

Ever wondered why - out of the 5 candidates recruited by your firm - only 2 showed up to work? Or have you heard about an employee working in your department who suddenly stopped showing up for work or even responding to emails? These are instances of Employee Ghosting, a phenomenon occurring in organizations more frequently than ever.

What is Employee Ghosting? Definition

Employee ghosting is the phenomenon that occurs when an employee stops showing up at work without giving any notice, and in the process often eludes their employer's attempts to reach them.
The term 'ghosting' itself is taken from the world of online dating and personal relationships in which an individual abruptly ends the relationship one had without any explanation by dropping out of communication. This phenomenon of ghosting is also applied to the workplace. Recruiter ghosting occurs when a recruiter stops communicating with their candidates midway during the hiring process. Whereas employee ghosting, being described in this post, takes place in 4 forms or periods:

When does Employee Ghosting occur? Forms

  1. DURING THE HIRING PROCESS: The most common instance of ghosting occurs when the candidates fail to respond to follow-up interview calls or emails related to interviews. Candidates not turning up for their assigned interviews are also included in this type of ghosting. Lack of clarity regarding the interview process, misinterpretation of the job position, not having received the follow-up email, or simply forgetting the interview date can be reasons for the same.
  2. ON THE FIRST DAY OF WORK: This usually occurs when potential employees are offered the job but fail to turn up on the first day of work. This may occur since the potential employees found a better opportunity elsewhere or believe that the organization is not a right 'fit' for them.
  3. CONSISTENTLY SHOWING LOW JOB PERFORMANCE BEFORE QUITTING: The first few weeks are crucial for the newly hired recruits. Within these days, if the recruit realizes that the responsibilities assigned to one do not match those in the job description, one might become less motivated to continue working. A similar situation arises if the employee does not find the manager welcoming or believes one is not the right fit. Since the employee has already signed the job contract, he could be making a way out of the organization by displaying some Pre-quitting Behaviours such as lack of efforts or low quality work.
  4. DURING EMPLOYEE OFFBOARDING: This type of employee ghosting happens in rare cases in which an employee (be it new recruits or those who have been in the company for a long time) either quits without warning or leaves the office even before the notice period of resignation gets over. Such unprofessional acts may occur due to lack of personal engagement or feeling mistreated and disrespected by others at work. It may also happen if the employee feels guilty of resigning or does not feel comfortable talking about it due to the reactions of their bosses, which may follow. Also read Quitting Your Job Elegantly.

How to Prevent Employee Ghosting?

  1. Improve transparency and open communication during the hiring process. Transparent practices initiated by the organization help encourage candidates to practice the same.
  2. Keep the potential candidates engaged in activities during the period between the offer letter and joining date. This can be done by providing them with an in-depth understanding of their jobs or familiarizing them with the organizational culture, values, and goals. Orientation meetings and onboarding buddies can help reduce confusion and misunderstandings that potential candidates may be faced with.
  3. Employees often quit a job (with or without any warning) due to poor superior-subordinate relationships. Organizations may train their managers on goal setting, effective communication, and managing performance to close the gap between the two.
  4. Try checking with new hires before the first day at work to look for any concerns or questions. At the same time, let them know that the organization looks forward to working with them.
Employee ghosting is indeed a serious issue that can broadly impact the recruiters as well as the employees. It is necessary for organizations to recognize inconsistencies within their systems and selection processes that may be triggering such unprofessional acts from the candidates.

⇒Have you had personal experiences with employee ghosting? What should managers/organizations do to reduce this issue?

Das, S. (2020, June 3). "How to deal with the silent issue of employee ghosting". Learning Hub.
Dyson, E. (2020, March 26) "Ghosting in the workplace: Why it happens and what to do about it". PeopleScout.
Kazoo (2021, July 30) "Employee ghosting: What to do when the line goes dead".


Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

A Ghost of a Term

Like a ghost, this "definition" seems somewhat amorphous ", attempting to find solidity by including... Sign up


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