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More and more candidates and new hires are vanishing without a trace from interviews, onboarding, and their first day of work. Discover how to bust this phenomenon known as “ghosting” and keep your top recruits from disappearing.

There’s something strange in the neighborhood. There’s something weird and it don’t look good. No, we’re not talking about Slimer and Mr. Stay Puft waging a spiritual assault on New York City. We’re talking about a phenomenon that’s risen in the post-acute care industry. 

If you’re not familiar with the term ghosting, you will be soon. If you know what it is, you may also know that it’s causing post-acute providers more problems than a cross-dimensional demon attempting to take over the world. Not to worry though, we’re going to equip you with 30 tools to bust ghosting by new recruits and employees—and not a single one requires a proton pack!  

What is Employee Ghosting? 

Originally an online dating term used to describe one person cutting off all communication with the other (essentially vanishing), ghosting has worked its way into the modern business lexicon due to prospective employees or employers being there one moment and gone the next.  

This is a big problem across all industries (and across post-acute care sectors) and it’s happening more often than you might think.  In fact, a study by Indeed found that a frightening 83% of employers say they’ve been ghosted.  

83% of employers say they have been ghosted.”

Two other alarming statistics from the Indeed research revealed that 50% of people failed to show up for a scheduled interview, and nearly a quarter of candidates accepted a job offer but failed to show on the first day of work. You can imagine the impact that has in post-acute care, as well as the impact it has on your company’s reputation.  

“50% of people failed to show up for a scheduled interview, and nearly a quarter of candidates accepted a job offer but failed to show on the first day.”

Why do Candidates and New Hires Ghost Employers?

Causes of ghosting vary by industry. Looking at it through a post-acute care lens, there are numerous common reasons people up and vanish while interviewing, onboarding, and during their initial days on the job. Here are a few of them broken down by stage.

Common reasons candidates ghost during the interview process:

  • Poor communication from the employer
  • Inaccurate descriptions in job postings
  • Disorganized scheduling of interviews
  • Slow, lengthy, or complex hiring process
  • Poor treatment of employee during interview process
  • Overly personal inquiries
  • Unclear employee expectations
  • Misalignment of values and culture between employer & employee
  • Poor company reputation
  • Bad patient reviews
  • Low compensation offered

Common reasons new hires ghost during onboarding:

  • Poor or disorganized onboarding program
  • No onboarding program
  • Lack of communication during onboarding
  • Employee found better/preferable job after accepting
  • Employee found same job with better pay or benefits after accepting
  • Employee found same job, similar pay, but better culture fit after accepting
  • Lack of company transparency in interview that’s uncovered during onboarding

Common reasons employees ghost their first day of work:

  • Lack of self confidence
  • Lack of confidence in employer
  • Lack of adequate support
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of expected tools & technology to perform job properly

Now you know why employees are ghosting, let’s equip you with the tools and the talent to start busting the practice in post-acute care.

10 Ways to Bust Employee Ghosting During the Interview Process 

Following are 10 tactics that can motivate your candidates to follow through on their interview commitment: 

  1. Practice excellent communication. Communication with applicants should be clear, constant, and timely. This helps to avoid confusion, answer questions, and instill confidence that they can expect more of the same during their employment. It’s also a good idea to provide candidates automated updates on their application progress to keep them engaged. 
  2. Write better job descriptions. Lose the buzzwords, jargon, and unnecessarily long descriptions in favor of a concise, clear, and accurate account of the position and expectations. Not only will this prevent candidates applying for a job they’re not interested in or qualified for, it’ll help to draw stronger applicants who are less likely to vanish from the hiring process. 
  3. Treat all candidates professionally, You’re speaking with people you want to serve, support, and represent your company. Treat them with respect, courtesy, and professionalism, and they’ll likely respond in kind by not ghosting an interview.

    77% of applicants in a 2021 poll saw a correlation between how they’re treated in the recruitment process with how a company will likely treat them on the job.

  4. Develop a streamlined, organized, interview process. Streamline and clearly outline your process so applicants understand next steps and timelines. Providing updates and reminders on these things keeps interviewees engaged and presents you as organized, efficient, and attentive.  
  5. Open the floodgates for questions. Inviting and answering interviewee questions before, during, and after the interview not only helps the person fully understand the job, your company, and its culture or values, it also seeds dialogue which can sprout into a relationship. The stronger the relationship, the less likely an interviewee is to vanish unceremoniously. 
  6. Market the positives of accepting the position. Interviews aren’t just for you to screen and find the best applicants, it’s also an opportunity for candidates to vet you as an employer. Sell what makes you different and why an employee should choose you. Attractive selling points include: growth and advancement opportunities; incentives; perks; benefits; peer reviews; patient reviews; and company awards.  
  7. Get to know the person, not just the candidate. Check all the boxes to ensure you get qualified candidates, but don’t stop there. People don’t want to be in a job where they’re treated like a number. Reeling off a list of canned questions capped with a, “we’ll be in touch,” tells the candidate you don’t care to learn about them as an individual—and likely never will. If they don’t feel you care about them, they’re less likely to care about ghosting you. 
  8. Don’t get too personal. Overly personal questions were listed in the Indeed study as one of the reasons employees ghost employers. So, get to know the person, but use your best judgement to refrain from crossing the line. This list of 75 questions to ask caregivers during an interview is a great resource for this process. And when in doubt, lean on your HR team, or an HR consultant. 

    Overly personal questions were listed in the Indeed study as one of the reasons employees ghost employers.

  9. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Closely aligned with the need to have an accurately written job description is the need to clearly define and restate roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Once you’ve done this, ask the candidate if the position still sounds appealing. If not, at least you’ll know and save time scheduling another interview where you’ll be the only participant. 
  10. Be flexible. Covid changed the business landscape in terms of flexibility for employees. Adopt the same kind of flexibility for interview times, dates, and rescheduling (to a point). Better to accommodate and speak with a great candidate than to force them into an inconveniently rigid time slot of which they’re more likely to ghost.  

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10 Ways to Bust Employee Ghosting During Onboarding 

An applicant accepting a job offer doesn’t guarantee you’ll see them again. According to Indeed, 22% of job seekers accepted a position, but failed to show on their first day when onboarding begins. The following 10 tips can help prevent ghosting during onboarding. 

  1. Dial in your onboarding process, then dial it in some more. Put an onboarding process together and document it.  Once in place, constantly monitor the process for successes, failures, and gaps, then revise and refine as necessary. Lean on your in-house HR team, or an HR consulting agency for help with this essential task. 
  2. Hire or assign an onboarding manager. Once you’ve dialed in your plan, you need someone to make sure it’s functioning properly. If your budget doesn’t allow for a dedicated onboarding manager, you can make it part of an existing employee’s responsibilities, or work with an outside agency.

    “Onboarding is so important for employee retention, I’d always recommend dedicating an employee to it full time.”
    – Chris Magleby, HCP Chief Strategy Officer

  3. Nurture your new hires. Think of a new hire like a business/sales lead—don’t stop communicating with them after they show interest. Nurture new recruits along by keeping them informed of hiring requirements and milestones, while always soliciting and answering questions.  
  4. Create a sense of commitment. When someone invests time and effort into something, there’s a psychological need to see it through to completion. Sending a new-hire a prep packet with tasks to complete establishes this sense of commitment. The key here is not to make the initial ask too big or complicated. Completing a bio or fun questionnaire is a great first step, then gradually increase the level of involvement or effort required.   
  5. Incentivize workers to show. Dangling carrots like free lunches during onboarding, a welcome kit that’s handed out in multiple parts throughout onboarding, and even monetary bonuses for completing onboarding, all help to combat new-hire ghosting. Providing gifts or money can also trigger a need among new hires to reciprocate, which can drive them to complete their onboarding.  
  6. Have a “no-fault” opt-out plan for employees. This may seem counterintuitive to keeping someone on board, but having a “no-fault” opt-out plan gives an employee the courage to speak up if they’re thinking about leaving. For those on the fence, you’ll have a chance to win them back. And for those who’ve made up their mind, it’s better to know they’re not coming than to be surprised when they ghost you.  
  7. Recognize new hires during onboarding. Lack of recognition was the number one employee complaint in HCP’s 2023 Benchmarking Report. Be sure to recognize the new employee, as well as their accomplishments, milestones, important dates, and other markers passed along their onboarding journey. Onboarding and retention software is extremely helpful for remembering dates and delivering recognition.

    “Lack of recognition was the number one employee complaint in HCP’s 2023 Benchmarking Report.”

  8. Be generous with the positive reinforcement. The onboarding process is full of uncertainty, angst, and some confidence-crushing moments. All of this can send employees running for the easiest exit route without warning. Lift new hires up with positive reinforcement and understanding to keep them pushing forward. 
  9. Make new members feel part of the team quickly. When people feel part of a team, they’re generally motivated to not let their teammates down. This includes ghosting during onboarding and beyond. Ensure new hires make connections as part of their onboarding process. A casual lunch or post-work get together at the end of the first week is a great method for forging bonds faster. 
  10. Check in, and in, and in, and in again. What is ghosting but a form of turnover without the courtesy of communication? Considering regular check-ins during onboarding are proven to reduce turnover, they’ll be equally effective against ghosting. Using an employee survey solution not only takes the task of your hands, it can also alert you to warning signs that an employee may be on the verge of fading away. 

10 Ways to Bust Employee Ghosting on the First Day of Work 

By this point, your new hire has made it through interviewing and onboarding, and you’re likely saying to yourself, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.” Well, not so fast. Many new hires, especially in post-acute care, get cold feet and vanish when they’re on the verge of being thrust into the field. The following strategies can help you avoid these first-day phantoms.

  1. Provide exceptional training. A rock-solid training program helps caregivers feel confident that they’re prepared for anything the first day throws at them. This is true for everything from clinical preparation to food preparation. 
  2. Assign mentors. If you don’t have one, create a mentoring program. With a veteran as a mentor, newbies have a safety net and sounding board for questions on everything from clinical techniques to emergency procedures to daily routines. Employees also tend to feel safer speaking to peers than to a supervisor, so mentoring also helps improve communication, which can alert you to problems while they’re still fixable. 
  3. Require shadowing. Shadowing gives new employees a true feel for the job, let’s them experience client and employee interactions firsthand, and allows them to learn from the people who do it on a daily basis. This helps to overcome fear of the unknown amongst new employees, so they can go into their first solo day confident and prepared.   
  4. Provide job aids. Equip fresh employees with printed or digital resources and job aids. FAQs, checklists, and tip sheets are comforting to have in one’s back pocket. They may not need them, but it’s nice to know they’re there if they do. These can be a huge help for employees who aren’t comfortable asking questions—which brings us to our next point. 
  5. Ensure workers feel comfortable asking questions. New hires are often afraid to ask questions for fear of coming off unintelligent or underqualified. Make them know that everyone has questions when they start a new job, and that it’s acceptable, and appreciated, to ask them. Having the answers to these questions boosts their preparedness, comfort, and confidence, while also ensuring clients or patients receive excellent care. 
  6. Provide emergency contact numbers and emails. Having emergency phone numbers, email addresses, and websites easily accessible is not only beneficial for putting a new-hire at ease, it also supports patient safety and care. Think of these like safety nets when a newbie takes their first step out onto that tightrope by themselves. 
  7. Continue to check in. Nearly 40% of new hires leave within their first 100 days. Unless you have the luxury of a 100-day onboarding process, this encompasses their first days in the field as well. Continue to track engagement and satisfaction, and immediately respond to negative comments or warning signs. Companies that proactively engage with dissatisfied employees are 65% more successful in retaining them.

    “Companies that proactively engage with dissatisfied employees are 65% more successful in saving them.”

  8. Have a “no-fault” opt-out policy. The last thing you want is a caregiver ghosting a client or family. Giving them a get out of jail free card can make them more comfortable letting you know that they’re leaving, as opposed to just not showing. Again, knowing an employee is leaving gives you an opportunity to save them, or to start planning for replacing them . 
  9. Create a firm, but professional “anti-ghosting” policy. If a no-fault opt out policy doesn’t strike your fancy, take the opposite approach and institute a strict anti-ghosting policy with consequences. According to Indeed, 94% of employees who ghost say they experience little to no consequences. In other words, there’s nothing stopping them from doing it…and doing it again. Make it very clear that they’ll be getting busted for ghosting.

    “94% of employees who ghost say they experience little to no consequences.”

  10. Help caregivers prepare in advance for patients they’ll be working with. When possible, equip your new employee with as much information as possible on their first patients or clients to make them feel more prepared. This inspires confidence that they’re ready and able to successfully tackle their first day…and the days to follow.  

While more and more cases of “ghosting” are being reported, you now know that you have tools at your disposal to combat them.  For additional ways to transform disappearances into dedicated employees, get this free guide to preventing new-hire turnover. 


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