Browse Definitions :
Definition

ghosting (in the workplace)

Ghosting is to cease communications without notification. The use of the word "ghost" as a verb originated in social media in reference to dating, but the term is now used by employers to describe employees and potential employees who suddenly disappear. 

Typically, ghosting is used to describe:

  • Job candidates who suddenly stop responding to messages.
  • New hires who fail to show up for their first day of work.
  • Employees who do not show up for a shift.
  • Employees who leave work in the middle of the day and never come back.

Some analysts blame ghosting on millennial entitlement. Their reasoning is that members of the millennial generation have been brought up to feel they are special -- so special, in fact, that they do not need to follow conventional rules of behavior.

Other analysts, however, maintain that ghosting behavior stems from changes in the job market and the phenomenon is simply a reflection of the laws of supply and demand in a healthy job market.  In this context, the reasoning is that because there are more positions to be filled than there are viable candidates, potential employees feel comfortable ignoring recruiters and HR managers because they know there are plenty of other opportunities out there.

Ultimately, however, ghosting demonstrates a lack of respect and in the workplace, the practice is likely to be perceived as a sign of unprofessionalism and immaturity. Instead of disappearing to avoid a potentially negative conversation, it's important that job candidates and employees learn the necessary soft skills to say "no" gracefully and keep communication channels open.

How to prevent ghosting and how to respond to being ghosted

It's easy for a human resource manager to be frustrated by job candidates who ghost, but it's equally frustrating for candidates who hear nothing back after an interview. To keep the communication lines open on both sides, it's important for HR departments to do the following: 

  • Have a communication plan in place to inform job candidates about what to expect in the hiring process. 
  • Create a strong onboarding process that begins as soon as a candidate accepts the job.
  • Make time to personally introduce new employees to coworkers. While sending around a welcome email is helpful, it cannot replace face time. 
  • Provide the new employee with a mentor or contact person with institutional knowledge. 
  • Follow the 70-20-10 rule and verify what training the new employee will need immediately. If possible, postpone training opportunities that can wait until the new employee has some experience and can put the training in context. 
  • Create a feedback loop that will inform new employees about their performance on a continual basis. 

Forcing the offender to respond to communications, post-ghosting, is sometimes referred to as the controversial practice ghostbusting.  Although ghostbusting can be emotionally gratifying to the person who has been ghosted, its effectiveness is not always reliable. Experts recommend that if a potential hire ghosts an organization's HR department, it's better to move on and interview someone else. 

Other new terms inspired by ghosting

Interacting on social media -- liking Facebook posts, for example – without resuming direct communication after ghosting someone is sometimes called haunting. Actually resuming communication with someone after you’ve ghosted them is sometimes referred as zombieing, as the “ghost” returns from the dead. In a human resources context, that might be when someone who failed to show up for their first day of work reapplies to the same company a few months later.

There’s also a term for the more responsible protocol for ending a relationship: If you nicely explain why you will not be continuing communications and terminate politely, it’s called Caspering. That behavior, which was long the standard, is named for “Casper, the Friendly Ghost,” the title character in a cartoon series of the last century.

This was last updated in December 2019

Continue Reading About ghosting (in the workplace)

SearchNetworking
  • network packet

    A network packet is a basic unit of data that's grouped together and transferred over a computer network, typically a ...

  • virtual network functions (VNFs)

    Virtual network functions (VNFs) are virtualized tasks formerly carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware.

  • network functions virtualization (NFV)

    Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture model designed to virtualize network services that have ...

SearchSecurity
  • Android System WebView

    Android System WebView is a system component for the Android operating system (OS) that allows Android apps to display web ...

  • data masking

    Data masking is a method of creating a structurally similar but inauthentic version of an organization's data that can be used ...

  • computer worm

    A computer worm is a type of malware whose primary function is to self-replicate and infect other computers while remaining ...

SearchCIO
  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

  • contingent workforce

    A contingent workforce is a labor pool whose members are hired by an organization on an on-demand basis.

  • product development (new product development -- NPD)

    Product development, also called new product management, is a series of steps that includes the conceptualization, design, ...

SearchHRSoftware
  • talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is the strategic process employers use to analyze their long-term talent needs in the context of business ...

  • employee retention

    Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping productive and talented workers and reducing turnover by fostering a ...

  • hybrid work model

    A hybrid work model is a workforce structure that includes employees who work remotely and those who work on site, in a company's...

SearchCustomerExperience
  • Salesforce Trailhead

    Salesforce Trailhead is a series of online tutorials that coach beginner and intermediate developers who need to learn how to ...

  • Salesforce

    Salesforce, Inc. is a cloud computing and social enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider based in San Francisco.

  • data clean room

    A data clean room is a technology service that helps content platforms keep first person user data private when interacting with ...

Close