Last time we discussed what the ghosting problem is with regards to employees. This time we will talk about why it’s so challenging for employers dealing with workers who ghost and what some auto repair shops are doing to manage ghosting.
Let’s recap what ghosting is. Specifically, it’s when employees or interviewees don’t show up for work or interviews and do not call or otherwise communicate that they will not be coming in or are quitting their jobs. They just go incommunicado and blow off their responsibilities. Obviously this is rude and doesn’t respect what many consider basic work etiquette, but the problem goes beyond hurt feelings or inconvenience. It affects how companies operate down to the last employee.
How Ghosting Costs Businesses
According to Chip Cutter, editor-at-large at LinkedIn, ghosting is “starting to feel…commonplace.” Many companies say that 20 to 50% of their job applicants and workers are ghosting their jobs in some form or another. It’s not limited to a specific industry or class. Blue collar and white collar workers are now ghosting on the job. There are multiple ways this affects business owners and managers, including in the auto repair industry.
First, it’s difficult to get work done if employees do not show up, but it’s even more difficult if you have no warning that they will not be there. Remaining employees are forced to stretch their time and abilities to fill in for people who should be there doing their jobs. In smaller auto shops, a few employees not showing up can mean that the shop will have to close temporarily or there will be long backlogs of work waiting to be done.
When customers have to wait days or weeks to get their cars fixed, they are not happy and they’ll choose another auto shop the next time. The shop may operate professionally as a whole, but it can’t get the work done if the workers don’t show up to do it. The problem with ghosting is that it’s spreading from being something flaky workers do to a thing large segments of the worker population feel is fine to do. A good manager can identify irresponsible workers from their work history or how they interview. What happens when everyone stops believing they have to show up to work when they don’t feel like it?
Finally, it eats up a lot of a manager’s time to constantly replace workers who ghost. If the applicants also ghost on interviews, that’s more time wasted. It’s also tremendously discouraging, and that sense of discouragement can affect how managers interact with their other employees. Trust and cooperation are necessary for any workplace to function well.
What Can Managers Do about Ghosting?
One way some managers are dealing with the problem of job applicants ghosting is to modify the interview process. Instead of scheduling individual appointments and being stood up, some managers are casting a wider net. They schedule group interviews with multiple applicants. The benefits of group interviews are less wasted time and a more competitive atmosphere. If a manager schedules an interview for 5 people and three do not show up, there are still two people there to talk to. Those two people also may have the impression that this position is more desirable if other people are there expressing interest. They may choose to be more invested in the process.
In some industries, managers are hiring more people than necessary just in case some of them do not show up or ghost after the first few days on the job. They leave their options open regarding the other interviewees until a reliable person fills the position. Rather like recruiting for a basketball team, some managers are recruiting more and then cutting the team down to size after they see how their workers actually perform.
Another way to manage ghosting is to make sure that the new employees are scheduled to begin work sooner rather than later so they don’t lose their focus or apply for other positions. Shortening the interview-to-hire process can firm up a maybe to a yes in an applicant’s mind, although it can’t make a flaky employee into a committed one.
In a sense ghosting is just another aspect of employee turnover except that it’s hard to mitigate turnover when workers never bother to show up in the first place. As always, it’s worthwhile to talk to both prospective employees and other managers in the industry to see if they have any input that can be put to use at your shop. Ultimately, managers cannot change either the conditions of the economy impacting employment or the work ethic of today’s employees, so they will have to modify their methods instead.