The New Headache for Recruiters: Employees Quitting Before They Start

Recently, Enervise had a bitter but increasingly rare experience: The plumbing company recruited a man for a $75,000-a-year position. He claimed he was ready to move to Cincinnati and would be performing at 8 am on the first day. Then, the day before, he sent an email saying he had changed his mind.

Surprised, Aaron Dorfman, the company’s recruiting officer, responded. Radio silence. “I called him, nothing,” he sighs.

In fact, since the health crisis, companies have had to accept the idea that a vacancy is only filled when the new recruit shows up in the flesh at their premises.

Manufacturers, restaurateurs, airlines, cleaning companies are among the employers most affected by this wave of employees who say “yes” and end up never pointing the tip of their nose. According to Southwest Airlines, between 15% and 20% of new hires for certain positions don’t show up on day one. At Allied Universal, a specialist in on-site security and services, about 15% disappear before they start.

Sometimes called “ghosting,” the practice is not new. Before the pandemic, in a tight job market, some employees left their jobs without notice or simply decided not to come.

What has changed, according to the companies, is that today more and more people are passing out in midair before it even starts.

“The incidence of ghosting – accepting a job offer, saying you’re ready to go and never showing up – is at record levels,” says Jonas Prizing, president and CEO of interim giant Manpower. It is significantly higher than in previous phases of labor market tension. »

In the United States, the job market was not so healthy half a century ago. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% in March; in turn, job creation and the number of layoffs reached historic records. According to some indicators, the probability of being fired is the lowest in decades. Many companies have simplified their recruiting process and improved technology, to the point where it is sometimes possible to be hired within minutes without speaking to the recruiter.

The rise in the number of people not showing up for work on D-Day “can be explained by the fact that job seekers have no doubts about their ability to find,” suggests Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed.

“The new generation has grown up on dating apps, where ghosting is seen as annoying but common. For me, it’s spreading into the professional sphere.”

On Twitter, workers give several reasons for their decision: they received a better offer between the time they were recruited and the date they were hired, or they discovered that the salary or hours did not match what they were told in the interview. Sometimes, some say the company has declined their application in the past.

Murray Resources, a recruiting firm, confirms that it has found candidates are not participating in job interviews or not showing up at the company that just recruited them. “They have so much choice that professional politeness doesn’t matter anymore,” sighs its managing director, Keith Wolf, adding that his company is having a hard time hiring.

“The new generation grew up with dating apps where ghosting is considered annoying but common,” he continues. For me, it’s spreading into the professional sphere. »

Duster & Daisy Green Clean Service, a cleaning company in Corpus Christi, Texas, has been trying for some time to recruit five cleaners to expand their teams, but it’s finding it increasingly difficult to convince new recruits to come, even if only for training (paid) , laments the manager, Sunny Zhang.

Sometimes people come, sign the employment contract and immediately stop responding to text messages letting them know where the training will take place, some come once or twice and disappear without receiving a pay slip. According to Sunny Zhang, about 80% of new recruits end up disappearing without warning.

Two months ago, when faced with the situation again, she lost her temper. “I was so angry,” she says. She edited the text of her online ad, adding, “Please only apply if you are A SERIOUS PERSON, no ghosts.” It didn’t work, she sighs.

At Allied Universal, which employs about 300,000 people in the United States, about 18% of new hires did not show up on the first day at the start of the pandemic. That percentage has dropped to 15%, but Don Tefft, the group’s human resources manager, estimates that “we haven’t gone back to what I would call the pre-pandemic level” of around 8%.

After seeing the number of candidates turning down its offers increase, NetApp changed its recruiting process and reduced the number of interviews. According to Debra McCowan, who leads the technology company’s human resources, the idea was to speed up the process. “Talents have more options than ever before,” she summarizes.

Stella Pomianek and her husband Mariusz own Café Stella in Norfolk. They are also struggling to recruit. “We received a lot of applications”, explains Stella Pomianek. I let candidates choose the time of the job interview, and only 20% come, the rest don’t care. »

Some of her new recruits don’t come every day and don’t bother to notify, she adds. But the couple is reluctant to fire them because they know it will be difficult to find replacements. “At some point, they end up not coming, so we have no choice,” explains Mariusz Pomianek.

“At first we took it personally, we thought it was our fault, and then we talked to other bosses who told us they were going through the same thing. »

(Translated from the original English version by Marion Issard)

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