The tug of war between employer and employee has been going on for centuries. Sometimes, the fight seems fairly equal. Others, it’s clearly one-sided.
These days, the job market is still reeling from the COVID-19 shutdowns of early 2020. Employers claim no one wants to work. Employees claim no one wants to pay fairly.
And now, there’s a new problem for employers to face: applicants keep ghosting them. Not only does no one want to work, but they also don’t even show up.
But depending on which side of the rope you’re standing, this is just karmic justice at work.
How The Tables Have Turned
“I’m in the medical field, and this has been happening to us for the past year,” one employer told Green. “Being ghosted for interviews, people not responding. We’ve even hired people who didn’t show up on the first day or return for the second. It’s unreal.”
“I’ve never had so many people just not respond or not show up. Is this the new normal? I’m at a loss and feeling really discouraged,” wrote another hiring manager.
Whether on Tinder or at a start-up, no one likes to be ghosted. Employers say this behavior is unprofessional. Surely, we have to do something about it, right?
A Lot Of The Workforce Isn’t Buying It
According to the average worker, no, we don’t. Many Job seekers are used to not hearing from potential employers. Similarly, they’re used to unprofessional and unfair treatment. Their needs have often not been met.
So, some in the workforce are thinking, what’s the big fuss about it now? Green heard from several job seekers who weren’t ready to sympathize just yet.
“Honestly, I LOVE seeing potential employees treating employers the way employers have been treating their candidates for years!” One worker wrote. “I really hope that employers learn a lesson from this.”
“It seems perfectly rational to conclude that since [employers] have been ghosting applicants for years, ghosting is normal and acceptable,” wrote another.
“Given how many jobs I took the time and resources to apply to, research and show up for an interview who then never bothered to thank me for my time or let me know they filled the position, I can’t even summon up a little bit of empathy for this,” one quote read.
Some Employers Aren’t Competitive Enough
Are they bitter? Maybe a little. Are they wrong? Not necessarily.
There are plenty of employers that are asking for competitive applicants while offering little to nothing in return. When adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage in 2020 was 33% lower than in 1970. In 2021, it’s even lower.
Benefits like PTO are available to less than half of leisure and hospitality employees. This sector alone employs one in 11 US workers. So, for hundreds of thousands of people, they either show up to work or lose money.
Moreover, many workers earned more off of COVID-related unemployment insurance than their actual jobs. For example, my husband made more from UI than working hard, manual labor 70 hours a week. In what world does that make sense? Because I haven’t found one yet.
All of these could be reason enough for applicants’ behavior, but there could be more.
Other Reasons To Ghost
Namely, the pandemic is still happening. Some people are hesitant to expose themselves or their families to disease. Others can’t afford childcare, so they have to stay home.
And speaking of the pandemic, it gave us a lot of free time last year. Many workers took that time to reassess what they wanted out of their careers and lives in general. They discovered new labor markets that could better cater to their lifestyles.
This reassessment led to something Business Insider’s Aki Ito calls “The Great Reshuffle.” The reshuffle is “an unprecedented labor market, coupled with a rethinking of what workers want out of both work and life.”
It has “led many to exit their positions or to seek out new ones. The market out there for workers is competitive. Many are finding higher salaries or better positions as they depart their old roles.”
A Taste Of Their Own Medicine
As an average worker bee myself, I would argue there is no true dilemma. The tug of war rope hasn’t dropped in the mud yet; it’s only inched closer to the workers’ side.
Since time immemorial, the employer has held dominance over the employee. Save for a one-off revolution and a few union uprisings here and there, that’s been the American way.
The COVID-19 pandemic shone a massive, glaring spotlight on who really keeps the country going. (Hint: it’s not the people complaining about getting ghosted right now.)
It’s my opinion that we didn’t even utilize this shift to our full advantage. Workers once dubbed ‘essential’ are still earning an unlivable wage. Basic benefits like health care are still a faraway pipe dream for most of us.
So, no, job seekers aren’t ghosting employers. Applicants are turning them down. If anything, this proves that the power has always resided in the people—period.
And if they want more people to work, then they’re going to have to make it worth our while.