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Ghost, Be Gone!

August 6, 2019 | James Balda


Resolving ghosting in senior livingWhen I talk to recruiters and HR leaders in senior living, I tend to hear a lot about ghosting. Most commonly, “ghosting” refers to job applicants disappearing without a trace—missing appointments, not answering phone calls, and not showing up for work. Ghosting can also refer to employees who quit without notice, leaving our communities, supervisors, and staff in the lurch.

It’s become such a hot-button issue that Argentum hosted a webinar on the topic as part of our Senior Living Works program. I’ve asked Brent Weil, our vice president of workforce development, to put the problem in perspective. Here’s his take:

Ghosting is truly the symptom of a bigger problem: a breakdown of communication and trust in the workplace.

Applying for a job takes time, for interviews, applications, and background checks. Of course, we should speed up the process, such as shortening initial applications and ensuring we respond immediately. But in the interim, there’s always a chance for someone to get cold feet or find another offer. That’s why providers have built in stronger communication channels and trust-building. Many people today respond more to text, so that’s a great option for ongoing communication. Status updates are always appreciated. As we learned on the webinar, some communities are even inviting pending employees in to visit and meet the team, even before their official start date.

What about our existing associates who ghost us by not showing up to work? Again, if we think about it as a communication breakdown, then we can take a look at the root cause. What is the relationship like between supervisors and staff? Do employees feel like they are part of a team? Have we done enough to recognize the role everyone plays in delivering for the residents in our care?

There’s a final use of “ghosting” in our industry. It refers to the flip side of the hiring process: when individuals apply for a job and never hear boo (yes, pun intended) about their application. This has been going on for ages and is nothing specific to senior living. Jobseekers, especially for hourly positions, complain about it constantly and can get even more discouraged about their prospects. I believe we in senior living do better, and that will give us an edge in the tightest labor market in memory.

Argentum has a range of initiatives to support recruitment, retention, and development of the workers we need in senior living. Please join us as a Senior Living Works Ambassador! If you have a best practice you’d like to share, or if you are interested in our broader workforce development programs, please contact Brent at bweil@argentum.org.

One final note. Our webinar was recorded and is available for download.

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About James Balda

James Balda is a guest author for OnShift’s blog and the President and CEO of Argentum, the largest national association exclusively dedicated to senior living communities and the seniors and families they serve.

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