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'Ghosting coasting' is the latest labor challenge for employers, where underqualified hires disappear before they can be fired

Business Insider
Business Insider
 2021-09-15
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A restaurant in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City on May 4. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
  • US employers are desperate for workers, sometimes hiring employees without fully vetting them.
  • Recently, some new hires have been showing up just long enough to get paid before disappearing.
  • One source called the practice "ghosting coasting," the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said.

Vanished. Left on read. Stood up. Ghosted.

It has become a fact of modern social life that someone will — at some point — leave you hanging without any explanation. Odds are you've done the same to someone else.

Now, that social disappearing act has arrived in the workplace in a new way as US employers scramble to find staff — sometimes hiring candidates without a full vetting of their qualifications.

Ghosting has become such an issue for employers that none other than the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta made mention of it in the Fed's latest roundup of economic trends from across its 12 districts.

"Retention continued to be a growing problem for firms," the Atlanta Fed said. "Restauranteurs noted concerns over 'ghosting coasting,' where a new hire works for a few days and moves on to the next restaurant without notice before they are let go due to lack of skills."

The trend can be even more costly when employers offer upfront bonuses and incentives like free food and discounts to simply apply or accept a job.

Disruptive as the trend may be for employers, Adrienne Slack , the regional executive for the New Orleans Branch of the Atlanta Fed, would give workers the benefit of the doubt.

"The restaurant industry in particular, it can be a tough place to work," she told NPR's Robert Smith and Adrian Ma on the "Planet Money" podcast. "It's very demanding. And as individuals that haven't necessarily worked in that industry before realize that, they realize they may not want to work in that particular job for very long."

She added: "I'm hearing this from multiple contacts, not just in the restaurant industry, but I hear it in manufacturing as well."

Turnover and retention rates have long been significant challenges in the fast-food business especially. Two years ago, the average monthly turnover rate in the industry was 135%, which basically meant that four people were hired each month for every three who remained on staff. This summer, the turnover rate ticked up to 144%.

Additionally, Labor Department data showed restaurant workers were quitting their jobs at the highest rate in two decades. Within the accommodation and food-services sector, the quit rate was 5.7% in June, more than double the national average quit rate of 2.7%.

"What that has the restaurants and the manufacturers thinking about is, how do we make our industries more attractive for the workforce? How do we address the reasons behind this ghosting coasting? So it's really about retention," Slack said.

If you are a worker who has ghosted an employer or an employer who has been ghosted, please get in touch with Dominick Reuter via email. Responses to this story will be kept confidential.

Comments / 99

Charley Fawxtrott
09-15

why not pay the people that have been there better? my place of employment has a way of not giving a shhh about the ones who've been there through all this and instead reward new hires with wages we had to wait years for. and then those employees quit. it is time that businesses took a bit of a loss and take care of the employees. because true, I need a job, but also true, they need employees.

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Mark Allen
09-16

businesses made their problems with their "hire them,use them,abuse them and lose them" labor practices.No sympathy for these companies

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michael pollard
09-16

you fail to mention businesses hire for a certain job then change the agreement after they get them to work. so they collect the check they earned and dump the lying companies that change the agreement to suit their needs instead of hiring for their needs.

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