• Kris Standiford

An open letter to employers that are being ghosted

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

I work with local business owners every day. I help them with their marketing goals and strategies, advertising budgets, secret-shopping, best business practices, and more. The number one problem that they all have in common is something I actually cannot seem to help them with...or can I? Until now, when I sat down to do a "timeout call" with my clients, I've been unable to do anything about their biggest issue- employee retention! Not just employee retention, but new-hires even showing up in the first place!

Does this sound familiar? You place a "Now Hiring" ad, you have several responses, take your pick of the litter, hold your interviews, hire the winners that impressed you most, and then...

Nothing. What did you do wrong? Is there an internal issue you're unaware of? Stop beating yourself up- it's not you...mostly. You're in the same boat as 83% of business owners, according to an Indeed study in August of 2019. So what is causing all this job-hopping and total lack of respect, that you don't even deserve a phone call or heads up?

There are probably a couple of reasons- but the main one?- We have raised up an entire generation of cowards. That sounds harsh, but it's basically true- not for everyone (obviously there are exceptions to every rule) I am speaking only of the "ghosts." Let's unpack this for a second. Most of the employees I am referring to (not all) are in the age group of those who do not know life without Social Media and Smart Phones. So what has this done? It's made it way too easy to hide from difficult conversations. Think about it. Nowadays, if you're dating someone and you change your mind- you can just stop texting them; they will get the hint pretty fast. You can even block them; no guilt! POOF! They're just gone! (If you're lucky enough not to get a clinger, that is). You don't have to apologize, explain what went wrong, or why you're not just vanish! Sound familiar? It's no different than that new-hire that didn't come back on their third day. Cell phone? Blocked. Social Media? Blocked. The worst part is, they are actually getting away with it! Employers are desperate to hire, they rarely check references, they go off their gut-instinct, and they offer the position- often right on the spot.

I am 43 years old. When I started working I was taught that; you better give a two-week notice if you were quitting your job, it better be for a darn good reason, and you better leave on good terms. Why? Because if you didn't, you were going to have a difficult time getting anyone else to hire you. And it was true. Employers checked references, they asked about gaps in employment, they wanted answers- and if they didn't like what they saw, they moved on to the next candidate.

Now, for the good news. You can stop the cycle. The second reason why they are doing this to you (specifically) is perhaps because you never told them they couldn't. In the famous words of a wise man named Dr. Phil, that I will never forget- "People treat you the way you let them treat you." Let me ask you this- when you were in the interview process, what if you said something like this;

"I got your application and everything is pointing to you being a good fit for our business, but can I share with you my biggest concern?" (Get their approval to answer) "I get applicants all the time that also look like a good fit, I spend the time and energy to put them through the hiring process, I plan my schedule around them being there, and then they don't even show up on their first day. I don't want to assume that you would ever do that..."

And then SHUT UP. Let them respond. Make them tell you they would never do that!

Here is another one to try, during the actual interview;

"Thank you _____, for your interest in the position. Can I take a second to tell you what we're not looking for and then you can decide if you still want the position?" (Get their approval to answer)"We are finding there are two camps of people out looking for employment right now. Camp one is just testing the waters. The first sign of a difficult task, or having to work on a weekend when they have plans, they bolt- usually with no notice, leaving employers scrambling to cover shifts. Camp two, is really eager to find a new career and willing to put in the work of learning a new job, and they are very responsible in communicating with their new employer. They see the value in teamwork and understand they have a part to play in that. I don't want to assume, which camp are you in?"

By setting an "upfront contract" with them, you are telling them what you expect from them and what you're NOT looking for. If you don't want to do this because it's too uncomfortable for you, then are you much better than the "ghosts" you keep hiring, hiding from a difficult conversation? You owe it to yourself to ask these questions and you deserve the answers. If they aren't a good fit, wouldn't you rather know right away and save the time and money hiring and training them?

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