It has become an all too familiar scenario for many small businesses: a potential employee doesn’t show up for the interview or a new employee, perhaps after a single day or a few weeks, suddenly disappears, never to be heard from again.
For businesses already struggling with labour shortages, the phenomenon of ‘ghosting’ has grown into a real challenge as our economy continues to rebuild.
“The last time we checked, we had about 30% participation in live interviews,” says Mike Black, owner/operator of Valet Car Wash in Cambridge and eight other locations. “I’m also finding that many people go onto Indeed and apply to dozens of job postings and they have no idea why you are even contacting them because they have so many irons in the fire and are just picking and choosing.”
He’s not alone in this regard. According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 37% of small business owners who responded said they have had potential hires suddenly disappear without explanation, while one out of three who’ve hired someone during the last year either had that employee not show up their first day or had them stop coming in shortly after being hired.
While salary is a clear motivator for many job seekers, Mike also believes there has been a cultural ‘shift’ as opposed to just an economic one in terms of how people currently look for work.
“There almost seems to be a complete lack of courtesy and respect for others,” he says, noting the adage ‘never burn a bridge’ no longer seems to apply.
Janice McVey, Manager Partner at the Dean Group which specializes in employment recruitment, says the fact there are so many jobs available and that accountability no longer seems to be there when it comes to referencing, are a few of the key factors.
“It used to be that having a good job reference was important and not having one used to be a real impediment,” she says. “Now, again with unemployment so low and good people hard to find, companies are lowering the bar. The job candidate understands that lack of investment from the client’s perspective, so it becomes a bit of a two-way street.”
Janice says conducting a short Zoom interview may not necessarily win over a potential employee and make them feel invested enough to sign on. However, she acknowledges that most companies also no longer have the luxury due to staff shortages to properly acclimate a new employee –spending additional time on training or introducing them to all their co-workers - because they need them to start working immediately.
“As a result of tightening up the interview process, they actually lose that ability to truly engage somebody in the role and therefore they can lose them,” says Janice, noting ‘A list’ companies that offer higher salaries and benefits tend to have fewer ghosting issues. “I think what it boils down to is there are too many options out there and therefore people do not worry about not finding a job when they need one.”
To help combat this, she encourages her clients to really promote why a person should want to work for them.
“You have to make sure what you’ve got to offer is what the candidate is really looking for. You as an employer, have to be clear on why people want to work for your organization,” says Janice. “Because now, they’re interviewing you more than you’re interviewing them.”
And if the candidate accepts the job but there is a concern they could soon be looking elsewhere, she recommends reminding them why they accepted the job in the first place.
“What was their motivation; if money was the reason, you’re never going to keep those people because they’re going to go to the next guy who pays them more,” says Janice. “I think you’ve got to make sure you’re lining up what it is you’ve got to offer with what it is an individual is looking for.”
Mike agrees noting potential employees are paying much closer attention to a company’s core values and how it projects itself, especially online.
“You are definitely selling yourself more today,” he says, adding that communication is vital, especially during the initial interview process and explains how his company keeps in close touch with a potential employee once contact has been made.
“We stay in constant touch with that candidate, reminding them about the interview and confirming the date and time,” says Mike, adding they have had great success with video interviews which can also lead to an in-person meeting depending on the position they’re trying to fill.
Also, he says that close communication continues for the first few months after a new person has been hired.
“You really need to build a relationship that makes them feel welcomed and appreciated, and make sure they have everything they need,” says Mike. “You also have to be aware of how your employees are interacting with your new hires because they can play a major factor on whether they will stay or leave. It only takes a couple of bad apples to taint someone.”
Janice agrees, explaining leveraging your internal network can help an organization retain new employees.
“Your best salespeople as a good organization are your current employees,” she says, adding the pandemic has made the work of HR departments even harder. “I’m afraid the downside is they haven’t been able to do some of things that helped with engagement of candidates like they used to.”
When it comes to recruitment, Mike has purposely entrusted that responsibility to someone else in his organization.
“If it’s not something you’re comfortable with, you really have to delegate it to someone who is,” he says, adding each January his company also does an analysis of its turnover rate during the previous year. “We compare it with previous years to see if we’re getting better or worse. If we’re getting worse, then we really need to look at why and look at solutions as to why that rate when up.”
Employment turnover at a glance:
• Info provided by The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals
February 19, 2024
July 28, 2023
Canadian Chamber of Commerce
January 29, 2021
March 27, 2020