For years, hiring new employees involved a lot of “ghosting.” That is, recruiters and hiring managers would interview candidates — sometimes multiple times — and then never get back to them. No mention of “Thanks so much, but we’ve decided to go another direction” or “We’ve decided not to fill the position.” Just radio silence.
Now, the tables have turned. Job candidates stop returning recruiters’ phone calls or simply don’t show up for their first day, never to be heard from again. And it’s not just limited to prospective employees — even long-term staff have started to snub the traditional two weeks’ notice, instead marking their resignation by simply failing to show up for work.
It’s not hard to find examples of this happening, and businesses are upset about it. The Washington Post chimed in with its own stories, including one from an employee who got laid off without notice and realized that if her company could fire her without notice, then she could quit without notice.
She’s right. Almost all employment in the United States is at-will. That means there is no contract and no legal obligation to continue the working relationship — on either side.
Of course, as an employer, you don’t want candidates ghosting you or your employees quitting without notice. The key is to be a workplace that people don’t want to skip out on. Now, there’s a lot that can go into making your organization a more attractive place to work, from flexible schedules to competitive pay to great management. But don’t discount the power of your benefits package. Here are four ideas for how to leverage your benefits to beat this unfortunate trend.
Understand Short- vs. Long-Term Incentives
Some companies don’t let employees take advantage of their health benefits as soon as they join the organization. Many require a 90-day waiting period or at least make employees wait until the next calendar month. Give candidates a reason to join up quickly by making your benefits available on their first day. This offers new employees peace of mind and relieves them from having to figure out how to bridge the gap on their own.
At the same time, other benefits may work better over time. Consider your retirement plan, stock sharing option or other long-term compensation benefits. Having a good 401(k) match that only vests after five years might help slow down turnover. Take the time to educate your employees about what they have to gain from sticking around.
Have a Great EAP
Employees who are stressed out are more likely to cut and run. While better management practices overall is the best way to ease tensions in the office, sometimes stress comes from outside work. Family troubles and money problems can be major stress inducers. If you have a strong employee assistance plan (EAP) and make your employees aware of it, they can use it to find counseling, hire a divorce attorney or get their finances in order. When life is going well, work seems less stressful. And when work is less stressful, employees are more likely to stick around.
Offer Opportunities for Development
On the other side of stress is boredom. In fact, one recent study found that the No. 1 reason employees looked for a new job in 2018 was because they were bored and needed new challenges. Offering training and professional development opportunities not only shows your investment in your staff but also makes your company essential to their future. If your employees are jumping ship to seek opportunities elsewhere, figure out how to bring those opportunities to them where they are now — with you.
Reward People Who Give Two Weeks’ Notice
Two weeks’ notice is a social convention more than anything else, but you can enforce it with your benefits policy. If your state law allows it, tell employees that you will pay out their accrued and unused vacation when they quit if they give and work out a minimum of two weeks’ notice. Getting that vacation pay may be enough of an incentive to have people give notice instead of ghosting.
On the flip side, never fire people for quitting. While this isn’t necessarily a benefit, employees see it as critical. If an employee gives two weeks’ notice, either let them work it out or pay them for the two weeks and let them go home. If you say, “Hand me your badge — you’re out of here,” then you’ve just ensured that the next employee won’t give you notice at all, even if you really want it from them.
Hiring new employees isn’t easy, and workplace ghosting can make the process even more frustrating. But try to come at the problem from a place of understanding. Employees who ghost are usually just following the example of employers who have ignored their applications or suddenly let them go, and it’s probably easy for them to see it as giving companies a taste of their own medicine. Getting past ghosting will require a show of goodwill on both sides, and these benefits strategies are a great step toward showing new and current employees that you mean business.
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