It’s the end of the working day. You wish your employees farewell. But one of them never shows their face again. A far from ideal situation.
Employee ghosting is becoming increasingly common in the working world, and it’s something we’re seeing a spike in calls on. So, what do you do about it? Keep reading as we take a step-by-step look at how to handle a ghosting case.
Often – but not always – employees will call it a day (without telling you!) following an incident – because you’re investigating an issue, a decision hasn’t gone their way (like a pay rise request) or there’s been a difficult conversation, for example.
There doesn’t always have to be a reason though. Some will stop showing up just because it’s not for them – this is more often the case for employees who haven’t been under your employment for too long.
Some employees might call in sick one day, be vague about their ailment, and then stop responding to communication thereafter. Others might stop all forms of contact immediately after they’ve walked out of the door. Either way, the end result is the same.
You may see that the employee’s still active on social media sites but, to you, they’re not talking.
1. In the first instance, you should try to get in touch with the employee over the phone. Ask yourself, do you know of any sickness, mental ill-health or out-of-work issues that could be causing the employee’s behaviour?
2. If you can’t reach them over the phone, send them a letter asking if they’re okay. Within this, you should state that they‘re currently classed as absent without leave and it’s a reasonable management instruction that they contact you in the next 48 hours – if they don’t this will be classed as gross misconduct.
3. If you still haven’t heard off the employee, then you should invite them to a disciplinary meeting for unauthorised absence, failure to get in touch and failing to follow sickness absence procedures. Remember though, they still have all the normal disciplinary rights.
4. If the employee fails to show up for the disciplinary meeting and they’ve only been with you for a short time, providing you warned them that the meeting could result in their dismissal in their absence, you could dismiss them – remember to follow a fair dismissal process throughout, though.
5. If it’s a long-term employee and they don’t show up then you should invite them to another disciplinary meeting. If they don’t show up again and you warned them that the meeting could result in their dismissal in their absence – providing there are no mitigating circumstances, like sickness – you could dismiss them.
It’s essential that you’re consistent with your approach. If, for example, you give one long-term employee a second chance to show up for a disciplinary meeting and not another, you could be faced with a discrimination claim.
There are two easy-to-implement ways to prevent employee ghosting:
Environment: foster a working environment where communication is encouraged – ghosting is harder to do when good lines of communication are open.
Recruitment: make sure you recruit people who’re right for the business – this will reduce the number of employees who ghost you because they don’t feel like you’re the right match.
Employees unexpectedly leaving you is never nice. Although we can’t control their actions, we can be by your side every step of the way to make a stressful situation, well, less stressful.
When it comes to HR & Employment Law, we’re the experts. Our experienced team are here to help with everything from disciplinary processes and dismissals, to recruitment and discrimination – and everything else in between.
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