In A Hot Labor Market, Some Employees Are 'Ghosting' Bad Bosses More employers say they're being "ghosted," the Federal Reserve noted recently. That's when a worker just stops coming to work and is impossible to contact. The strong economy may help explain it.

In A Hot Labor Market, Some Employees Are 'Ghosting' Bad Bosses

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If you've spent time in the dating world, you might be familiar with ghosting - when someone you're seeing suddenly vanishes and stops answering your calls. Well, with low unemployment rates and a solid job market, ghosting is now affecting employers. NPR's Emily Sullivan reports.

EMILY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Kris was a good lifeguard - so good in fact that after a year of working at a waterpark in Cincinnati, his bosses promoted him to head lifeguard and promised him a raise. His new duties were more than just keeping an eye on the water.

KRIS: I did the daily schedule and rotation for all lifeguards, and I tested the water slides and the chemical levels in the water as well.

SULLIVAN: But six months into his new position, his paycheck remained the same - eight bucks an hour instead of the 10 he was promised.

KRIS: Week after week, I would ask about it, and management would keep making excuses.

SULLIVAN: Then an announcement - Kris' manager said they would cut all employees' pay by 10 percent due to financial difficulties. So he decided...

KRIS: If they really don't care about me and they don't value me and what I do for the waterpark, then maybe I'll just stop doing it.

SULLIVAN: He ghosted. On a busy summer day, he didn't show up to open the park. He ignored his manager's calls.

KRIS: I ultimately caused, like, the shutdown of the water park for that Friday.

SULLIVAN: Kris estimates he cost the park between 15 and $20,000 in lost sales. Now, he's working at a Fortune 500 company. While he doesn't regret ghosting, he doesn't want his current bosses to know about it. That was a few years back. And now Kris' exit strategy is increasingly common - even the Fed has noticed. In a report last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted that more employees are ghosting. The Fed says ghosting is a situation where someone stops coming to work without notice and then becomes impossible to reach. Raquel Anaya, a recruiter in Florida, says she's seen a spike in no-shows in interviews and first days on the job.

RAQUEL ANAYA: I think most of the time it's that people interview in more than one place concurrently, and we get edged out on offers. So instead of just saying, I got a better offer, they just stop.

SULLIVAN: She says she understands but that if an applicant who disappeared reapplied to her firm, she'll remember that they ghosted, and that doesn't look good. Anaya blames the influx of ghosting on a hot labor market with lots of opportunity. So does Andy Challenger, of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a job placement firm.

ANDY CHALLENGER: I think a lot of the stories that we hear from companies is people ghosting in industries where jobs are the most plentiful and good employees are the most scarce.

SULLIVAN: Industries like tech and engineering. And he says ghosting is a learned behavior. Employers ghost applicants all the time and can fire workers without two weeks' notice. So in response, employees or applicants might say...

CHALLENGER: I'm just going to ghost them. I'm not going to respond to the calls and texts and voicemails that they leave me because, in some ways, it feels like revenge.

SULLIVAN: Challenger doesn't recommend ghosting, no matter how bad a boss is.

CHALLENGER: People leave without notice are missing out on one of the most satisfying parts of the human experience, which is quitting a job that you hate, right? Even if you do it politely, that can be cathartic.

SULLIVAN: But Kris, the former lifeguard, cites one big reason for not telling off his bosses. He wanted to hit them where it hurt - financially.

KRIS: I feel like I made a bigger dent than I would have if I had just said, OK, I'm done.

SULLIVAN: But he says he'd never ghost on an employer that treated him with respect. Emily Sullivan, NPR News.


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